On The Comfort of a Gentle Whisper
The balloons, the colorful flags hanging from the ceiling, the sea of excitable people, the "oohs" and "ahhs", the loud music, the "you're so cute!" praises from a few inches away, the commotion of movement, the hum of voices, the surprise cheek pinches from all directions and the "let me hold him" requests... It's all so overwhelming and overstimulating for a baby. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my church! The life-giving energy is palpable, the people are the most friendly around and there is nowhere else I'd rather spend my Sundays. Serving by their sides and praising Jesus with them is irreplaceable and I am grateful to have such an environment to raise my child in.
A couple weeks ago, though, amidst the chaotic noise, I looked down at my nine month old son in my arms to see distress all over his face. It had been a long day already of being held by many people and he had snagged only shortened naps due to all the excitement. His head was swiveling back-and-forth and all around and his eyes were darting from one thing to the next. He had no idea what to focus on...
My heart was heavy for him. The only thing I could do in that moment was pull him closer, gently press my cheek against his and whisper softly into his ear, "It's okay, Elias. Your mama is right here. I love you. Just listen to my voice." His body language began to calm. "Look into my eyes, baby. Keep your eyes on me. I'm right here with you. Focus on my voice..."
I didn't really internalize this moment until later when I was listening to the audio version of Pastor Steven Furtick's book, Crash the Chatterbox. Though I have read this book before, it's impacting me in new ways this time around. In chapter seven, he talks about Elijah's experience with the way God spoke to him during a time of fear and confusion (from 1 Kings 19:10-13). God was trying to get Elijah's attention. He had him go out to an open mountain and stand. First a mighty windstorm came through, and then an earthquake, and then fire. Each time, Scripture said that the Lord was not in those things. Finally, the Lord spoke to Elijah through a gentle whisper.
I was so moved by Pastor Steven's thoughts on this story. He wrote,
"When we are overwhelmed by noise, assaulted by paranoia and nauseous with anxiety why does the sound of his voice seem so low that it almost gets buried? Why doesn't God speak to us in ways that are more spectacular and distinguishable when we are faced with obstacles that seem insurmountable? Why does the eminence of disaster and the possibility of dejection often seem much more present than the protective voice of God? If God wants us to hear and know and obey his voice, why does he whisper? I don't know all the reasons because God has never consulted me on his methods of communication, but here's how I've come to understand it: he whispers because he's close."
Tears began streaming down my face as I listened, finally beginning to grasp the tender, personal love of God. Just like I did in the situation with my son in the church lobby, God is holding us. In those times of distress when we have no idea what to focus on, our Father's heart is heavy for us (his children), too. In those moments, he could use any dramatic means to get through to us, but he chooses to pull us closer, gently press his cheek against ours and whisper softly into our ears, "It's okay, your Daddy is right here. I love you. Just listen to my voice. Look into my eyes, child. Keep your eyes on me. I'm right here with you. Focus on my voice..."
Are you in the midst of chaos, fear or confusion that is leaving you feeling overwhelmed? Do you hear so many voices battling for your attention that you don't know where to focus? Me too. Lean in... God is near. Tune into his gentle whisper and lock eyes with him. Allow everything else to fade into background noise and follow his leading.