One of my goals is to see God in everyday events; in the little things that I normally tend to ignore. For most of my life I did a lot of ignoring! Instead of looking for God in the “whispers”, I was looking for a burning bush, a flash of lightning. It seemed to me that big “aha” moments would be an effective way for God to “talk” to me, leaving no doubt of his presence or meaning. Although I have a hard time admitting it, was I wrong!
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 a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came 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. I KINGS 19: 11-13
One of the first times I realized that God speaks to me in the quiet, normal moments of everyday was an evening after work. At the time, I was working as an inside sales specialist for a large computer and electronics company. It was just before Christmas with numerous calls from unhappy people still waiting for the arrival of gifts they had ordered. It’s easy to understand their frustration, so I spent more time than we were really allowed, helping track down their gift. Those calls I didn’t mind at all. The ones that irritated me (okay, thoroughly annoyed me!) were the calls from parents who were spoiling their children with outrageously expensive items. For instance, one lady called to purchase two xboxes, two sets of games, two sets of accessories explaining that her sons would not share. Are you kidding me?? Another caller ordered a laptop with all the bells and whistles for a 12 year old who was yelling at her in the background. I realize that for many Americans, Christmas is an entirely secular holiday. Even so, what are we teaching our kids?
The kicker that night, however, was a caller who was so upset she was crying. I immediately felt sorry for her; the gifts that she had ordered for her son were on back order and wouldn’t arrive till after New Year’s Day. After some investigation and order tracking, I discovered that the game box had been delivered, but without the bundle of games. When I got back on the line with her, I tried to get her to see the bright side. The game box could be wrapped and the games arriving a week or so later would give him something exciting to anticipate. Still she cried. I asked her why she was still so upset (in hindsight not my smartest move!). She explained that her 29 year old son had specifically asked for these items and she promised him they would be under the tree. Well, I was so shocked! The call didn’t last more than a minute after that revelation! Luckily it was my last call.
I clocked out, grabbed my stuff and proceeded to stomp out to the car. It was a brisk night, with a clear sky full of stars and a large, bright moon. Normally I would stand and stare up at the sky, in awe of the beauty. I love stargazing. But that night I looked up with my arms outstretched and yelled at God, “Why am I doing this? What is wrong with these people? Don’t they know the true meaning of Christmas?” I just stood there in total frustration, waiting for an answer, but not really expecting one. As I continued gazing at the moon, this thought popped into my head “who do you think you are?” It’s not like I heard a voice, but it was a distinct, clear thought that came out of nowhere, taking me by surprise. Of course, my immediate reaction: “What do you mean, who do I think I am? I would never have my children experience Christmas like this!” No response. Just loud silence! After a minute or so, I began to feel a little foolish. Really, who am I to judge people for how they celebrate Christmas? Who am I to decide what is too extravagant a sum to spend on gifts. Instead of being critical of people who obviously think differently than I do about this, why couldn’t I see it as an opportunity to evangelize? Why couldn’t I use my frustration to spur me to pray for their change of heart (or mine?!) It was a good lesson. In many ways. Including the lack of a burning bush in God’s communication with me.