The windows rattled a bit and she wrapped around my leg. I personally absolutely love a good thunderstorm, but my Essie Rose would not concur. She particularly dislikes the thunder and lightning at night. She looked up at me, intensely concerned.
“Mad sky mama. I do not like.”
(We are daily thankful for the clarity of speech that gives us a bigger window into her vivid mind) I cupped her tiny face in my hands and scooped down to her level, leaving the sauteing veggies to themselves to tend to my anxious and tender six-year-old. “Essie, the sky is not mad. The sky is loud. Loud is not the same as mad.” While she still did not appreciate the claps and bolts in the sky as I held her, she seemed to relax just a little bit against me.
Things we don’t fully understand are scary. When we have no place to put these unknowns in our mental organizer, we fill in the gaps with what we do know. Essie doesn’t understand how thunderstorms work, she just knows that they sound scary. In her world, the only reason something would scare her is because it’s angry. I know so much more about the real danger (or lack thereof in that moment) and therefore don’t feel any of the same anxiety that she does. I can’t help but think about my relationship to my Father in Heaven when I reflect on this thunderstorm misconception. In Isaiah 55, He reminds us that “My thoughts are not your thoughts nor your ways My ways. As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So much of my anxiety comes from not understanding the complexities of what is happening around me. “It sounds so loud!” I say to Him. “It scares me out there and everything feels so mad.” I cling to His strong legs and He scoops down to cup my face in His hands. In that moment, I am the most important thing in the world.
“Loud is not the same as mad,” He whispers to me.
It reminds a bit of the prophet Elijah’s journey in 1 Kings. He was literally being chased down and was exhausted. He felt alone in His zeal for God. Elijah, weak and completely discouraged about the state of the world around him was at a breaking point. God led Elijah to rest and then provided meals for Him miraculously (have you seen this in your own life- meals of sustenance from heaven when you needed it most?). And then the Lord came to give Elijah what he needed most- His presence:
“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
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.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
The Lord is not blind to the earthquakes and the strong winds and the thunderclaps and the “mad” lightning storms. They preceded His gentle voice with His knowledge. In fact, He purposefully had Elijah stand on the mountain and wait for His voice after these things occurred. (Could God not simply have spoken first in the whisper?) God called Elijah up to get a better perspective on the way he was seeing things.
The Lord made Elijah wait through the loud to know intimately the whisper. It’s almost as if we can hear the Lord saying to us, “Wait for me. Press in. My whisper is coming. Look from up here. Watch. I know you’re tired. Listen. I know it’s loud. But loud is not the same as mad. It is not all as you think. My thoughts are not your thoughts.”
I confess that there is an infinite amount that I don’t understand about what’s happening right now. (If anyone does claim to get it, probably run…) But I don’t think it’s all as it seems. And I don’t mean that in a conspiracy sense. I mean that, even the things that seem like chaotic angry earthquakes, are not news to God. His ways are higher. I absolutely think that He wants our ear to the ground, listening- being aware of our surroundings and what He is doing in the earth. He wants us to be discerning about what is light and what is dark. But mostly, I believe He is calling us up onto that mountain to watch, to wait and to listen for His whisper. We don’t need to cower or scream or feel anxious when we see the earthquakes coming- Jesus warned us they would. We don’t need to be shocked that things seem so loud or that the world’s systems are extremely confused, messed up and twisted- they always have been. But when we hear the close rumble of thunder, it means it’s time to get excited that the whispers often follow the loud. Stand firm and wait for His presence. He has something to say to you.
For Elijah, God asked him, “whatcha doin here?” He gave Elijah the chance to pour out his heart and frustrations with the world as it was. He told God He was tired and worn out. And to these frustrations, the Lord actually gave Elijah someone to pass the torch to (Elisha). He was giving Elijah release at a job well done. While there are quite a few times I admit I’ve asked the Lord for this same thing, that’s not what God says to all of us on the mountain. To Moses He gave commandments to govern the people. To His disciples, Jesus gave blessings and beatitudes. So, the question is, ‘What are you doing on the mountain?’ Why are you there? Are you there because of the hype? You heard earthquakes in the news, and you wanted to see if they were real? See the rocks crash for yourself? Are you there to warn others of all the craziness coming? Are you there because you’re tired and worn out? Ready to be done? Questioning God’s timing and trying to understand why you’re still serving Him? Today, whatever brought you to the mountain I would encourage to do these 3 things:
Ask God for His perspective on the mountain.
Wait for the whisper.
Remember that all is not as it seems in God’s kingdom. Loud is not the same as mad.