One of my favorite books as a child was by Judy Blume called, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The book was about a preteen girl who was going through changes in her life and body. The book resonated with me because I understood even as a child that there were times that I felt that God was not there or that God was not listening.
Even as adults, we have those moments when we question God’s presence in our lives. The reality is that God never leaves us. God is always present and faithful even when we do not see or feel God at work. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139:7. God is with us despite our moments of anxiety and trepidation.
Movies and popular culture create an image of God that taints our understanding of who God is. We expect this booming voice to come out of heaven or expect God to be a celestial Santa Claus dropping off gifts. When we do not hear God in this way or God does not provide the answers we want, we then doubt God’s existence.
Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV) was running away from Jezebel who wanted to kill him. He was afraid despite seeing God’s power previously. The Lord said: “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” 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. After the earthquake came to a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came to a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Could it be that God is asking each of us that same question today?
This passage is a fitting example of how we often miss God’s voice. We are seeking God in the distractions of life but with so much noise, we often miss God. We are captivated by the disasters and challenges we face. It is so easy to become fixated on what we see and experience going on around us that we miss the small quiet voice.
I remember when my daughter was a little girl, there was a bird chirping outside of the window. She kept saying to me, “Momma, I can’t hear it.”
I remember teaching her to be still and listen. It was not until she quieted her thoughts and tuned out everything around her that she could finally hear the bird.
That is the case for many of us. We cannot process our own thoughts because of all the interference we receive due to our phones, social media, emails, meetings, and everything else we deal with.
Imagine the difficulty that we face in hearing the voice of God with all the things vying for our attention? We see the mountains that appear too difficult to climb. We see the earthquakes and how our world feels as if it is being shaken from underneath us.
We see our dreams sometimes explode into flames and we are so busy trying to put out those fires that sporadically show up. It is when we allow ourselves to be still, quiet and listen that we can hear God’s voice reminding us that God is with us.
As my daughter moved closer and became intentional, she could hear the birds. Notice as well that Elijah was in proximity to God. Even when Moses experienced God at the burning bush (Exodus 3), he too, was close.
Examine where you are with God in terms of your relationship. You may be too far away to hear the voice. God has not moved, but you may have. “Come close to God, and God will come close to you,” James 4:8. Take time to listen. But first, get close and still, and know that God is always in control (Psalm 46:10).
(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry podcast and the author of three books for women. To learn more, visit <drfroswa.com>.)