Overwhelm: It seems to be a common word these days. News is full of stories that tap deeply into our compassion and concern. But they are so full of emotion that it becomes hard to keep going. One more tweet in the daily barrage from the White House sends news media spinning and our Facebook echo chamber buzzing. As flames consume homes and lives, one more news report of the devastation of a disaster, and our senses are on overload…again.
That tendency to just turn it all off and deal with the day-to-day is oh so tempting. And every once in a while it may be necessary. As Elijah learned (1 Kings 19:11-13 NRSV): He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by”. Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” A great wind. An earthquake. A fire. Sound familiar?
So we long for the “sound of sheer silence”. We want to wrap ourselves in a mantle or a warm blanket or a prayer shawl. We want to go somewhere to ‘Be Still and know that I am God’.
As I imagined this disaster update, I paused, because what else can I say that hasn’t already been put out there? You all know the drill of where to send funds and where to find updates. You don’t need one more blog repeating the same images, stories and tugs at your heart (or anxiety). You certainly don’t need one more tweet. I confess that it would be easier to just put on some good quiet music and shut off the news. But then those words come back: Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And I was reminded there is work to be done and folks who need us to be about that work in Napa Valley, in Puerto Rico, in Las Vegas, in Mexico, in the Houston area, in the many Caribbean islands, in Florida…and in so many places around the globe.
So, pause if you must. Listen to that sheer sound of silence of the God who invites you to be still. Then get going.
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