…and [Elijah] requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers…and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?…And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 9)
God was in the stillness. The mountains were rent, the rocks broken, the earth shaken, and the fire kindled; but Elijah need more than “shock and awe.” Elijah needed the presence of the Lord. Sometimes I read this passage and have no pity on Elijah. How could he fall so low when God had revealed Himself in power and glory only days before? How could he resort to a pity party when God had done for him what men of God in our day are crying out for in desperation? Why couldn’t be content with the memory of what God had done to His enemies and for His people? The Spirit of the Lord answers:
…thou condemnest thyself: for thou that judgest doest the same things. (Romans 2:1)
O how swiftly I can fly from the presence of the Almighty into self-reliance and thus inevitably into despair! I can move in and out of God-dependence with mind-boggling regularity and, because I have left the quiet place, not even know it. Not until Elijah was standing in the stillness of the presence of God, could he be renewed, focused, and used again by God.
Sometimes it’s hard for us men to sympathize with you ladies, since we feel that you have more control over your day than we do. Occasionally, while Kaye Dee is out speaking or ministering and I’m at home with the kids, God brings me back to reality. In fact, the first thing my wife usually asks when she calls me on her way home is, “what’s flooded, burnt, shredded, or plugged up?” (This insight comes from long experience with me.) I don’t recall having a beatific vision the last time I flooded the house by overflowing the laundry machine. In the excitement of managing a household, finding the still place where God imparts His quiet Spirit can be a challenge. You see, the quiet spirit is not worked up, fallen into, or developed by discipline – it is the fruit of God’s presence. That Presence must be yielded to and given the best and most intimate parts of our lives.
God’s choicest servants have discovered that there can be no substitute for intimacy with Him. Listening for His still, small voice and bowing before His majesty is scarcely possible in the midst of the fray. You must get alone with Him. There is no other way. You must give Him your best hours daily. Pain! Agony! Death to self! Yes, bu His sanctifying presence is the only access to that beautiful, quiet spirit which God values in you above all else.
O Thou who are my quietness,
my deep repose,
My rest from strife of tongues,
my holy hill,
Fair is Thy pavilion,
where I hold me still.
Back let them fall from me,
my clamorous foes,
From crowding things of sense I flee,
and in Thee hide.
Until this tyranny be overpast,
Thy hand will hold me fast;
What though the tumult
of the storm increase,
Grant to Thy servant strength,
O Lord, and bless with peace.
Written by Colin Richards. This article was published in the Fall 2006 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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