Elijah was a great prophet because he listened to God. He did not listen to the wind or the earthquake, as we are prone to do; he waited for the whisper. Only then did he leave the cave to commune with God.
Elijah could tell the difference between noise and the Word of God. We prefer to think God is in the noise. We like mountain top experiences when a thousand people sing praises to God, and we imagine that is where we commune with Him. We are not so good at hearing the still, small voice of God when we are alone.
Does God speak to us in a vast auditorium through the thousand voices? Yes. Does He speak out of the storms of life? Yes. But a conversation is best held in the quiet.
Jesus gave Peter a lesson in that shortly after the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Jesus sent the disciples away in their boat while he found a quiet spot for conversation with Father.
When the wind came up and kept the boat away from shore, the disciples became frightened. Possibly, God said to Jesus, ‘We can talk later. Go on and calm them.’
Jesus walked calmly into the storm because God smoothed the waves for him. When Peter asked Jesus to call him, Jesus simply said, “Come.” As far as we know, he is one of only two humans to walk on water. The rest of us must wait for it to become ice.
Peter listened. He heard the command and obeyed, even in the midst of the storm. But, like most of us, he could not stay focused on the Word. He looked at the storm and sank.
Notice: Jesus took his hand and pulled him out of the water. Only then did he say, ‘You have some faith, but not enough.’ I don’t think Jesus was critical so much as instructive. ‘Peter, you could have done better. Next time, don’t take your eye away from me.’
Jesus knew Peter would slip into the water, just as he later knew Peter would deny knowing him. Jesus also knows my weaknesses, and yours.
I cannot make myself into the person God wants me to be. Only God can do that. God asked his Son to take care of the details of making it happen. Only by listening to God—to Jesus—do I have a chance of doing the Will of God, of becoming the person He made me to be. Even then, I will be that person in the next life. For now, I am a shadow of who I will be.
See my comments on these NT readings from August 10, 2014, here.
Be righteous and do good.