The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


An Elijah Moment

I Kings 19:11-13:
11 "Go out and stand before me on the mountain," the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Saturday night, at our Singles fall retreat, our church’s spiritual life minister spoke on the spiritual disciplines. (My failure to have much, if any, discipline in my life is a topic for another time.) We spent some time practicing the discipline of silence. Scott led us through a meditative exercise, where we visualized the Spirit entering us as we inhaled, and our negative thoughts, sins, and guilt leaving as we exhaled. It actually was very similar to a relaxation exercise my therapist in California did with me. She eventually taped it for me so I could do it at home. I really wish I knew where that tape is.

Anyway, I just couldn’t get into it. The end of the week had been really hard for me. I had been struggling, yet again, with my job/money situation. I had found out some really disturbing news about a good friend. A couple of other friends had shared with me some hard things going on in their lives. Just a whole lot of negativity piled up in one short time. So Saturday evening, I was worn and tired. I tried to imagine that my whole body was “radiant”, as Scott instructed, but I just didn’t have the energy to even visualize it. I prayed and cried silently, grateful I was in the back corner.

I realized that I still don’t trust God. Which is ridiculous, because of everything He has done for me. I’m afraid that He will leave me to deal with the messes in my life, because I have a hard time seeing where He was with me during some of my recent struggles. I’m afraid of feeling that alone and scared again. And I don’t know how to turn those feelings off or around.

During the worship time, I had been somewhat mesmerized by the icicle-style Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling along the wall in the front of the room. All of the other lights had been turned out, so they were a somewhat natural focal point. As we sang a few final songs, and reflected on what we had just done, I cried again. I was just so tired. I wanted nothing more than to go find a quiet place to hide and bawl and sleep for about a month. (Remember that scene in “Forrest Gump”, where Jenny comes back to Greeneville and sleeps like she hasn’t slept for years?)

Looking at the lights again, I saw a rainbow. Just one, from just one light. I don’t know if it was the angle I was at, or what, because the other lights were all white. But the tears in my eyelashes refracted that one beam into many colors, and I remembered God’s promise to Noah and his family. God will never abandon us to devastation. No matter what I think, no matter how I feel, He will not leave me. It doesn’t mean devastation won’t come, in one form or another, but I don’t need to fear it. He will stay with me through the storm, the flood.

That moment, that sight was His still, small voice calling to me through the earthquakes, fires, and winds in my soul. Earthquakes shake things up; fires consume and purify; winds cleanse. And in the end, when it’s just you and God, and nothing and no one else, you can hear him the most clearly. He won’t shout for our attention, but He will get everything else out of the way so we can hear him whisper. The chaos and pain I fear are nothing. God is using this struggle to clear my life out and make more room for Him. I’m trying to learn how to help Him, and not to fight the process.

I woke up this morning still with the same fears and worries, the same knot in my stomach I have come to know so well. But it’s different. It’s not a confidence that these things will go away, or that I don’t have problems, after all. But it’s a knowledge that I can face them. That bad things still suck, but that God is big and strong enough to withstand them, and to carry me through. I know this is a lesson I’ll learn repeatedly throughout life. After all, you can probably go back through this blog’s archives and see regular posts about this very topic. But every time I revisit it, it becomes a little more complete, a little more full, and I remember it just a little bit better. So thanks for bearing with me, and thanks be to God for his mercy and faithfulness.

5 Responses to “An Elijah Moment”

  1. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Beautiful... and so inspirational- thank you for sharing your struggles and your triumphs with us.  

  2. # Blogger Malia

    I'm so glad that you KNOW that God will never leave you! Throughout my life I've had many periods of doubt and falling away and just plain rejecting God for various reasons but during ALL those times and actually ALL the time I have always felt God's presence in my life. He never left me, I tried to leave him, but he stayed and saw me through the hard times (still does). And you're right, God doesn't usually shout at us to get our attention. It's up to us to take notice and listen to the whisper.  

  3. # Blogger KC

    Thank you for your honesty. I'll pray for you  

  4. # Blogger Michael

    Tiffany,

    I can't say I've been exactly where you are..but I've been in a simliar type of situation. I understand what you're going through and will continue to lift you up in my prayers.

    Michael  

  5. # Blogger john alan turner

    I recently taught on this story again. You might remember that I talked it at the singles' retreat I did for you guys back in the spring. Anyway, I thought about you and the other folks I met from OC while I was prepping for that message.

    Good to know that the story of Elijah still speaks to you. Just remember what he said after all the wind and stuff died down: "Now go back the way you came."

    I don't know what it is exactly that you're afraid of. But I do know this: it's not going away by itself. You have to go face it. God will go with you. But he won't go without you.

    Go back the way you came.

    As weird as it is (and I realize I'm writing a novel here), when I taught that at the OC retreat, there was something I knew about that I needed to take care of. It bothered me the entire weekend, and part of me was afraid someone there might stand up, name it and expose me for the sham I all too often am!

    I went home and took care of it as quickly as I could. And I have slept amazingly well ever since.  

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