Give me a Jesus who meets me in the rushing, crashing waters of my questions. Let me stand precariously close to the dark and menacing skies of doubt, so I can hear the fierce and gentle loving voice of my Jesus who drowns out my fears and stands just beyond my questions with open arms.

Michael Yaconelli in Dangerous Wonder (1998)

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A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?”

He said, “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too.”

The Lord said to him, “Go back through the desert to Damascus."

1 Kings 19:11b-15a

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Thin. Quiet. Another translation describes the noise as the “sound of sheer silence.” Have you ever listened for that? Give it a try. I promise it is more difficult than it sounds. After all, we are conditioned to look for big stuff. Traffic on the interstate can be delayed by passersby merely looking on at an accident three lanes away, but no one notices the accident that was prevented by a subtle movement of the wheel. It is amazing to see our favorite basketball player splash down 37 points, but the one who played six minutes of stellar defense at the right time almost never gets interviewed. We can miss the quiet as we overlook what seems normal.

After running, hiding, and praying that he could just die, Elijah was told by God basically to stand firm in who he was, believe in the One who had brought him thus far, and get back to faithful work. No fire. No earthquake. No great wind. Just staying awake to God's subtle movement, trusting and following where God led. Maybe that deserves more attention than we think.

Byron Vance

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O Thin and Quiet voice of God, I admit that I look for the dramatic. I want immediate, earth-shaking action. I have trouble getting quiet enough to hear from you. Still my voice and remove my distractions, God, that I may recognize you when you pass my way. Amen.

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Stay awake that you may see the many ways God is with you each day.

Byron Vance

Byron Vance is a United Methodist minister serving as Senior Pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Pell City, Alabama. He gets to share life with spouse Kelly, two teenage boys, a dog, a cat, and the occasional squirrel in the crawl space. Byron served as a PASSPORT summer staff in 1997.

Inside and Out

Jon Chacko

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