Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Whisper

There's a hummingbird outside my window. It is like a whisper of God to my soul. Years ago, another hummingbird created in me a longing for its lightness and freedom, as it flitted about, wings beating 1500 times/minute, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. Its body is a machine of power, speed and beauty, and yet, as I watched it, it seemed as light and easy as a dandelion in the wind. That day I prayed that God would make me as joyful and light as that little bird.

Today, a word was spoken to me. A wounded bird, with a broken wing, longing to fly, work and be strong, but unable to move. "Your healing will come," the word said, "but for now, rest."

For several months now, my hummingbird has visited me almost every morning as I pray and read scripture by my ceiling to floor windows, overlooking the skyscapers of San Diego. Where on earth this hummingbird came from I could not say. But he comes, feeding on the nectars of a pine tree in between my building and the apartments next to mine. I thank God he found it because he speaks to me of rest, joy and life. A reminder from God that my healing will come. That the joy I long for is in His hands.

Life... It makes me think of Elijah, the great prophet who called down fire from heaven and wowed the nations with the power of God... and then ran like a frightened child from an angry queen. (1 Kings 19) What happens in the life of a prophet, or leader, that changes that confidence in the greatness and goodness of God, to a fear and depression that cripples one's ability to even listen to the same God? There could be a million answers, but look at God's response to Elijah: "Rest." Even as he runs away, God does not rebuke him, but heals him through provision, rest and whispers. Elijah sleeps, in the middle of nowhere, exhausted. An angel touches him and brings him food. Elijah sleeps again, and again the angel touches him and gives him food saying, "the journey is too much for you." Elijah regains his strength physically but continues to run, straight to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. Again, God descends, not with words of condemnation or telling him to go back, but with a question: What are you doing here? Twice he asks Elijah this question, accepting Elijah's condition while drawing him close and inviting him to think about his heart. "What are you afraid of...? Think about it... Look at me," He says. Elijah is depressed, discouraged... the words of the angel ring true in his soul... "the journey is too much for you." And God sees his soul. Twice God invites him to speak, and then listens. Just listens. Wow... God listened. And then he healed. Before confronting Elijah's doubt, speaking truth, or giving a command, God invites Elijah into his presence, saying, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Elijah doesn't need a Bible lesson or a rebuke, a command or a promise even. He needs an encounter with a loving God! He has seen God's power. Now he needs God's whisper to his soul.  A place of healing in God's presence.

God knows... He knows we are tired. He knows that, like Elijah, sometimes the pain and fear of this world suck out the life and joy from our souls and all we want to do is literally curl up under a bush and die. Sometimes He responds by setting us back on our feet and rebuking our doubt like he did to Peter. But sometimes... he lets us sleep. And He touches us, feeds us, listens to us and whispers. Those whispers are life. They are God Himself holding your soul, saying, "You are not alone. I am real, I am here, and I am for you. I am not just for your ministry, I am for you." God knows when it is time to rest, and He will be there with you. It is ok to rest. Where is the mountain where you hear the whisper? Maybe it's time to go there for a while, until God passes by and gives you life again.

God eventually did send Elijah back, but He also saw what Elijah needed. He did not send him back alone, but gave him a partner. Actually He gave him a whole team of helpers, along with a vision of new hope for what God had done and would do that Elijah could not see before. Many would say that Elijah's flight was weak, faithless and would be seen as shameful in our ministry culture today. Still, nowhere in the account do we see a hint of condemnation or anger from God. All we see is nearness, mercy, rest and restoration. There are times in our lives when all we need is rest as God touches our souls as we sleep and whispers his love and hope into our ears. This is my rest, and I am so thankful that I have a God who knows my weakness and my need and meets me right there, with a hummingbird in my window and whispers in my soul.