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 | By Father Dwight Ezop

The Still, Small Voice of God

In the spring of 1981, I found myself nearing the conclusion of a two-year process of preparation for the sacrament of confirmation. I had a decision to make:  did I want to be confirmed, or not?

During the final winter retreat for all the members of my confirmation class, I somehow got the notion in my mind that I was not worthy to receive the sacrament. During that retreat, someone had said that by that point all of us should have felt as though we had been hit by a lightning bolt from God, and that we should therefore know unequivocally that God was calling us to be confirmed. As I sat reflecting on that presentation, I could not think of any way in which divine lightning had struck me. I had attended our weekly confirmation classes, amassed a sizable number of hours of service and had participated in several retreats. Although I had learned and grown through the process of preparation, I just could not think of any experience along the way that equated to the bolt of lightning that I was told I should have experienced by that point.

When asked about being ready for confirmation, I just dragged my feet, so to speak. My mother decided she needed to sit down with me and figure out what was wrong. So, I told her—no lightning bolt experience from God as near as I could tell, so no good reason, in my mind, to think that I was ready for confirmation.

My mom was not buying it. Having grown up Methodist, she had a very good command of Scripture, and so she had me pull out my Bible and turn to the First Book of Kings in the Old Testament.

She directed my attention to 1 Kings 19:9-13. In the events leading up to that passage, the great prophet, Elijah, is on the run for his very life, being pursued by his enemies, who seek to destroy him and quash the words of God which he speaks as a prophet. Elijah is tired and frustrated, wondering where God has been in his experience.

God calls Elijah to take refuge in a cave and tells him that the Lord will be passing by. There is heavy wind, an earthquake and fire, but the Lord is not to be found within them. Finally, Elijah hears a still, small voice, and it is the Lord.

That afternoon, my mom taught me an important lesson. God had been working in my life in quiet, constant ways. Bolstered by that insight, I made the decision to be confirmed.

For some, God can be found in experiences akin to lightning bolts. However, for many of us, God is more often found in experiences akin to a still, small voice. God works in mighty ways, but God also works in very quiet, almost imperceptible ways. On the pages ahead, you’ll meet some folks who have had powerful encounters with the healing love of God. At the same time, we are in the midst of Advent, preparing for the season of Christmas. May we encounter God in the quiet of Advent days and the darkness of Advent nights. May we also be prepared to recall the arrival of the Light of World as it shone forth in glory at Bethlehem.

And so, our journey in FAITH continues.