Posted by: Postordinandy | April 20, 2009

Awkward Questions & Gentle Whispers

On Wednesdays, we often ask a question along the lines of:

“How have you seen God working this week?”

These are awkward questions. I frequently find myself avoiding eye contact with others – focussing instead on a suddenly very interesting piece of fluff on the carpet. Not everyone can, or chooses to, answer – my brain seems to go blank. Some of the answers we do come up with ‘feel’ more impressive, or important than others.

It’s a bit daft really. A friend asked me why we don’t come prepared, and I couldn’t think of anything like a good answer.

The reality is that we are still learning what “God working” looks and feels like. Although we all subscribe to a theology that says God is always working in His creation, we miss Him all the time.

This is nothing particularly new. Perhaps the most well known example of someone trying to get their head around this stuff is found in 1 Kings 19. Elijah has just been involved in a significant show of God’s power, but is now exhausted and fearful for his life:


Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by”. A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper, (1 Kings 19:11-12).

And the life of Jesus is also testimony to the often-confusing task of discerning the movement of God within his creation. For three years he wandered around Palestine, offering profound teaching, performing signs and wonders, feeding thousands with a packed lunch… Yet at the end of his life, most of his followers had given up and left. The Kingdom he spoke so often about was nowhere to be seen. Justice was missing, poverty and exploitation still ever-present. And Jesus was led away to be crucified

Where was God in all of this? As it happens, he was patiently working towards a conclusion that would bring, in time, all of creation back to him. But it wouldn’t have felt like it at the time!

The easiest, most comfortable choice would be to skip the awkward questions each Wednesday. But we cannot afford to do so if we are serious about increasing our understanding of God, and the work He is asking us to join in with.

Instead, we must continue to try and help each other see God working in and around us, be it a ‘gentle whisper’ or a bolt of lightning. And we must ask the supplementary questions too – encouraging each other (as both individuals and community) to wrestle with the meaning of God’s handiwork, and what response we should offer.


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