Are You Listening?
by Waitsel Smith
I often write as if I have the answers. I don't. I know who does have the answers; but whether or not He's revealed any of them to me is another story.
I think a lot of people are scared right now. I think they're scared because they're talking scared. They're talking about the end of America, the end of our prosperity, the end of our way of life, the end of our Constitutional government and our rights as American citizens, the end of western civilization, the end of Christianity, the end of the world. They even have scenarios in place as to how all these things will come about: 1) Obama will be reelected, thus ending all hope; 2) the economy will tank further (2013 and the end of the Bush tax cuts, you know), causing riots, after which Obama will declare himself dictator and institute martial law; 3) Israel is going to bomb Iran, initiating World War III; 4) China and Russia are going to invade the United States; 5) God is finally going to get fed up with the United States and destroy it; etc.
We all know how things are going to end from the book of Revelation. What we don't know are the details, and Jesus said we wouldn't know those. God is very unpredictable in that regard. He's in the habit of pulling rabbits out of hats that people don't realize are even there. He did that 3,500 years ago when He led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. He did it 2,000 years ago when His Son got up from the dead. He did it with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. He did it with George Washington and the American Revolution. He did it with Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812. He did it with the Allies in World War II. He did it with Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War. Just when you think you have everything figured out and things look their blackest, He has a way of sending in the cavalry.
He did that with the prophet Elijah time and time again. Once, Elijah was so discouraged because things looked so bleak that he just wanted to die. He even planned his own death: he fell asleep under a broom tree and waited to die from starvation. But God sent an angel that kicked him (King James Version) to wake him up and said, "Elijah, I've fixed you some breakfast. Get up and eat, we've got a journey to go on." The Book (I Kings 19) says he went 40 days and 40 nights on that meal. (I want what he's having!) The angel took him to the mountain on which Moses had received the Ten Commandments. I guess that was God's executive office back then. What God had to say to him must have been important.
Before I get into that meeting, let me say that I have an inkling of an idea of how Elijah felt. He had just called down fire from heaven and slaughtered the 450 prophets of Baal. He had also called down rain from heaven, ending a 3-year drought. He was a winner, the best in his field, and at the top of his game. Yet, he was depressed - depressed enough to want to die. Why? Because it's not enough to be a winner; you need to have a relationship that means more to you than even your very life. I've had days and weeks and months like the one Elijah was having myself. God gives me a string of victories in my life, and the next thing I know, I'm depressed. Something is missing - someone to share it with? A lack of fulfillment or satisfaction from just the work?
Here Elijah is, standing at the mouth of a cave on Mt. Horeb (Sinai), and God asks him, "What's wrong, Elijah?" and he spills his guts. He talks about being jealous for God (look at what I'm doing for You, God), about how God's people have forsaken Him (look at what they're not doing for You), and about being the only one left who still worships God (it's lonely at the top). He was feeling unappreciated.
So, what does God do? He tries to cheer him up: He puts on an Earth, Wind and Fire concert for him. He gives Elijah what he wants: a show of God's force. But God is not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire that passes by the mouth of the cave. God is not in the things that impress Elijah… nor that impress us. He then gives Elijah something he doesn't expect: a still, small voice. God is in the voice. God is a person with a voice, not a force that smashes rocks. He wants a relationship with us. God is what Elijah needed, yet God didn't look and feel the way he thought He would.
Jesus didn't look and feel the way the people of his day thought He would, either. They were expecting a military lion that would destroy the Roman eagle. What they got instead was a lamb nailed to a tree.
I wonder if we know what to expect of God today? Are we thinking that He's sitting in His big easy chair, watching what's happening on earth as if it were a bad TV show, thinking, "Man, am I bored. I can't wait for Armageddon." Do we think He's just waiting around for the time when He can come back and destroy all the things in the world that don't honor Him, and all the things in our lives that make us unhappy? Or maybe we think He'll show up tomorrow in some miraculous way, delivering us from some bad situation? He could. But He could also sneak in the back door as a beggar or a street person. He could sneak into our lives as a coworker or neighbor. He could sneak in as the least likely person on the planet. You never know with God.
The point to these musings, and the point to everything that's happening, is this: God wants a relationship with us. He wants to be that voice in our lives that brings us joy. He wants to be that person that we stand in the doorway looking for. He wants to be the one we share our victories with, as well as our losses. He's wants to be "the one."
If God is our one and only, the one that means more to us than even our very life, then it won't matter who is elected President in November, what happens to our economy, if Israel does or does not bomb Iran, or what China and Russia do. It just doesn't matter… because we have God.
God is the treasure for which we have spent our lives searching. He is the reason for this journey. He is the goal. Now we have Him. All that is left is to enjoy Him, no matter what is happening around us. Can we do that? If we can, then we will be lights in the midst of darkness… and that's all anyone can be or do in this life. We will be successes, like Elijah, but we will also be content, fulfilled, satisfied.
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Let's enjoy Him!
Waitsel Smith, September 16, 2012
COMMENTS FROM READERS LIKE YOU:
[Send me yours and I'll include them on this page. Let me know what you think.]
I'm not sure you haven't been a minister in your life - you are now!! This is uplifting and one I'll keep on my computer to read - and forward - and thank you for inspiration of the days now and ahead. Thanks Waitsel for your wonderful message. - Phyllis, North Carolina
Oh Waitsel, this is really good! I am one who is periodically scared/ depressed, when I should not be. I have several friends who are into the martial law scenario. I need to keep in focus that God is in control and we will win in the end. Thanks for your note. I'll try to keep my focus in the right place… - Sally, Atlanta
Boy oh boy, did I ever need to hear that today. I'm sending it on to my Bible Study group in MI. Everything seems to be nothing but gloom and doom and then we have to remember our Heavenly Father and our Heavenly Brother and their loving care for us. Thanks for the reminder! God is still on the throne. Hallelujah! - Stanley, South Carolina
Thank you for your uplifting message. Yes the times are a wee bit scary right now and life does look a bit hopeless. So thanks for bringing our focus back onto God, who is the ALL in ALL! - Alice, Atlanta
Thank you so much for sending this... It really blessed me. My brother is convinced that this January is the end of all times, and I keep telling him that there are too many believers left on earth for that to happen. But like you said... We don't know the details which are unknown to us, yet everyone's jumping to their own conclusions. Needless to say, I loved this positive reminder that God isn't going to let us all fall. And like his word says...The grace administration will NOT remain on earth during the tribulation (thank God). Anyways, thanks again!!! And I'll be passing this along to my family.... - Gina, New York
Waitsel, Well written my friend!! I have always believed we were living in the last days according to Matt. 24, 2 Thess. 2 and Ezek. 38-39. I know Israel is the catalyst to the end time events. Kind of exciting though ... living in the last hours, eh? - Dave, Atlanta
Good word! Thanks for sharing. - Noah, Atlanta
If you have not done so, please consider going to see the movie, 2016. Thanks for your musings. - Glenda, North Carolina
Good article; cool pictures. - Herschel, Atlanta
Nice thoughts! We need to share more light in this loomy doomy time! - Dan
Hi Waitsel – Thank you…very good, I really enjoyed it. Jesus is intended to be our 100% pure pleasure (John 15:11). On another topic, I know you have written negatively about rap music. I am finding that some artists are living examples of taking that genre captive and making it obedient to Christ. Their theology is solid. - Brian, Atlanta
Thanks for all your great comments!
Text © 2012 Waitsel Smith. Photos by various photographers. All Rights Reserved.