God learns about Elijah’s condition and sends an angel to care for him and then he sends word to Elijah that he is to go to Mount Horeb because God is going meet him there. Elijah is about to meet God and maybe he wishes the situation were a little different because he wasn't meeting God when he is at his best. He's meeting God at a low point; he's in a weakened condition, broken and discouraged. Elijah must have been wondering: what is this meeting going to be like? How would God manifest His presence?
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. (19:11)
Think about the power of the wind coming in hurricane force; rocks are flying, the mountainside is shaking and Elijah thinks, ‘if this is God showing up, I’m not sure I can handle it. But the Bible says, God was not in the wind. (19:11)
The story goes to say, After the wind there was an earthquake. Once again Elijah thinks to himself, ‘if this is God, I’m not sure I handle this. But, the Lord was not in the earthquake. (19:11)
And after the earthquake came a fire. (19:12) Whatever has not been reduced by the wind or the earthquake is now consumed by a raging fire and Elijah wonders, is God going to manifest himself as a consuming fire? But, the Lord was not in the fire. (19:12)
And after the wind and the earthquake and the fire, the Bible says there was a gentle whisper. (19:12) Then a voice said to him, "what are you doing here, Elijah"? (19:13) Translation: what's going on? Why the discouragement? Why the despair? Let's talk about it, Elijah. In that moment I think Elijah was stunned by God's gentleness!
This story says something to me about our God; about His character and His inclination towards His people. It also says something about the power of gentleness. Gentleness has the power to shock us and leave us undone. And when we’re undone, we become curiously open to what God might want to say to us, to what God may be doing in and through our lives. The older I get, the more I’m seeing that gentleness is a better way!
Be kind and gentle to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)