After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.1 Kings 19:12(NASB)
God uses many methods and means to get our attention, in order to teach us a deeper truth about Himself. Having fled from the fierce threats of Jezebel, a vicious and rebellious woman, Elijah cowered in the corner of a cave. He prayed to escape through death... but the Lord had something more to teach His servant about God's Own perfect character. God had something greater to achieve in Elijah's life. He desired to draw Elijah into a deeper and more intimate understanding of Himself, as He does with all His children.
In faithfully carrying out God's purpose with great energy and commitment, Elijah fell into the trap of exalting himself rather than God. He desired fierce vengeance on the wicked people of his day, rather than applying the godly principles of a gentle and contrite spirit.. which bears all things and believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Elijah fell into the trap of not leaving things in God's hands or entrusting all things into God's Own keeping.
Elijah had just challenged the priests of Baal and gained a magnificent victory. His prayer for rain was wonderfully answered. But Elijah wanted his fiery ministry to continue. He wanted the Lord to rain down judgement on the wicked and show more of His might and strength. He wanted the Lord to use him to confound his enemies... but fear of Jezebel's threats, left him hiding in the desert. He was fearful, confused, and complained that he was the only faithful servant and true worshipper of God left in the world!
Elijah had enjoyed his ministry and wanted his own personal 'success' to continue... rather than humbly recognising that God's plans and purposes span from eternity past, into the ages to come. He had to learn that God fulfils His Word in many different ways. God does not always do what WE think is right and He has many thousands of faithful people who trust His Word and obey His commands. Elijah needed to learn that he was simply one small cog in the wide-ranging wheels of God's almighty purpose for humanity.
In order to help him understand about God's own gracious character and the petulant nature of man, God spoke to a downcast Elijah, in a cave on Mount Horeb. The Lord taught His servant something of His own character, through a series of natural occurrences, before He brought him to a gentle understanding of the truth about Himself.
First, the prophet saw a mighty, raging tempest, followed by a great earthquake, and a fiery inferno... but finally God spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice that brought him to his knees. Elijah came to a deeper understanding that men's hearts will never be compelled to believe in God... but the long-suffering, gracious nature of God will draw all men to Himself.
God's ultimate plan and purpose is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, and put all things under His authority. Jesus did not come as a mighty warrior or a fighting champion. The Son of Man was lifted up on a Tree. "If I am lifted up I will draw all men to Myself," were Christ's own words. Elijah had to come to an understanding of the mercy and grace of God, as well as His almighty power.
The Lord our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and just as Elijah was one of God's many servants who was being refined, like silver in the furnace of affliction, our lives are also brushstrokes on the canvas that God has been painting throughout history. For the time being, we only see through a glass darkly, but one day we will see His finished tapestry and be amazed at God's wisdom and grace.
At the moment, we are passing through life not quite understanding why certain things are taking place in our lives - but if we are prepared to listen to His still small voice and follow His gentle commands, we will all one day gaze in awe and wonder at the whole, magnificent tapestry of life... of which we are one small part.
Remember, He takes our personal situation, and from it selects the method and means to get our attention, in order to teach us a deeper truth about Himself. He wants to draw us into a more intimate fellowship with our heavenly Father. Let us keep our ears open to the gentle softness of His still, small voice, for He continues to speak into the lives of all who have ears to hear.
Father God, I am humbled to realise that You have included me and my life, as part of Your plan for humanity. I realise more and more that I must decrease in every area of my life and entrust all circumstances into Your gracious hands... so that You may increase, and I may decrease. Use me, Lord, as You will, in Your wider plans and purposes, and develop in me an understanding heart and a listening ear to hear all You have to say to me. Teach me the lessons that You would have me to learn and keep me looking to Jesus. This I ask in His precious name, AMEN.