The Old Testament became more meaningful to me when I realized that it recorded how a people built a relationship with an invisible God. How difficult that is! As CS Lewis wrote, “The truth is that if we are going to talk at all about things which are not perceived by the senses, we are forced to use language metaphorically” (Miracles 115)..
And that’s what the psalmists and other Old Testament writers did. “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea” (KJ Psalms 93:4). Anyone who has ever stood by the pounding roar of a waterfall or the crashing smash of the ocean’s waves on the shore easily appreciates the image they give of the overwhelming and resounding might of a living, all acting God.
But, as compelling and sensually perceptible as these metaphors appear to us, we shouldn’t fall into the habit of thinking that God is contained within the natural things that He is being compared to. The Creator doesn’t live inside of this natural world. Elijah realized this around three thousand years ago. He was in hiding, running for his life, when he heard the command, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord” (KJ I Kings 19:11). There he watched as “a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks,” and then the earth shook and was burned by fire. But Elijah’s close communion with God told him something else—that “the Lord was not in the wind” and “not in the earthquake” and “not in the fire.”
Then, after all of this natural upheaval and totally separate from it, Elijah hears God’s “still small voice.” And that same experience happens to us. When we are in trouble, when our world is being torn apart by some grief or fear or loneliness, above all the noise and separate from all the turmoil, the Lord speaks to us. He reveals Himself with a whisper. And we are comforted. (Living Large, chapter 12)
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