When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. —1 Kings 19:13
If someone were to say to you today, "The Lord is going to appear in your life between now and sunset," you would probably say, "Well, if He really is going to appear, I'm sure I'll recognize Him."
Elijah was to see a manifestation of the glory of God unlike anything he had ever seen before (1 Kings 19:9-18). It comes at a time in his life when he is depressed, tired, and on the run from his enemies. As he shelters in a cave in hiding, God tells Elijah to watch and see what He will do: "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by" (v. 11).
First, a great and powerful wind tears the mountain apart and shatters the rocks around him. This has to be the Lord! He has appeared in this way before. But we're told that "the Lord was not in the wind." After the wind there is an earthquake. Ah, this must be it! But no—"the Lord was not in the earthquake." After the earthquake comes a fire. Elijah is sure this is the way it should be, because God had previously manifested Himself through fire. But "the Lord was not in the fire." After the fire there is "a gentle whisper," what the King James Version calls "a still small voice."
I daresay that God wants to appear in my life and in yours. The difficulty is that we tell Him how He can do it. Some of us who have seen God work think, I'll know Him when He comes because I've seen Him before. The truth is, God may come again and ignore all the traditional ways. He has worked through earthquakes. He has worked through wind. He has worked through fire. But this time He may come in a different manner. Will we recognize Him if He does?
Excerpted from When God Shows Up (Renew Books, 1998).