Earth(quake), wind, and fire

How does God speak to us?

I think the most direct answer to this question is: His Word. God gave the living Bible to talk directly with us in our tenuous human condition. Time spent in the scripture always returns dividends. Every time.

I’ve been pondering this basic question about God speaking since reading 1 Kings 19. In this chapter, God has sent the tired, fearful Elijah to Mount Sinai (this is also where God met Moses in Exodus 19). Elijah is on the run from Queen Jezebel; she has vowed to kill him and the prophet is feeling scared and alone (ever been there? yeah, me too).

In verse 11, we read: The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Wow. God is coming. What would you expect? Trumpet blasts? A multitude of angels singing? Blinding light? An impenetrable cloud? These would all make sense. He is God.

Verse 11 continues:

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.


After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

Verse 12 says:

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

I love verse 13. Don’t miss this.

When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

God told Elijah to “go out and stand on the mountain”. Where was Elijah, though? He was in a cave. Have you been there, hiding in the cave when God has called you into his loving arms? I have. Our caves may include: financial security, professional recognition, our children’s accomplishments, sexual conquest, an altered state of mind through drugs or alcohol, …, name your own dark cave.

I love that God speaks to us in a gentle whisper. It tells us so much about our loving Father. It’s what drew Elijah out to the mouth of his cave. Just to the edge. Scared rabbit faith. Just like me and you.

He is not in the wind; the wind changes direction. God does not. He is consistent.

He is not in the earthquake; the earthquake is powerful, but it breaks apart. God does not. He builds up.

He is not in the fire; fire consumes. God does not. He nourishes.

He comes in the gentle whisper. Be quiet. Listen. God has words of love, salvation, and healing to share with you. You are known and loved. Peace, friend.

About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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