How often we take things for granted until suddenly they disappear—jobs, friends, health, finances, and on and on. This week, as laaryngitis ravaged my throat, my voice disappeared and I experienced firsthand the value of speech. I guess I could look at it positively as one way to hold my tongue, staying out of trouble for saying things better left unsaid. I could also seek the Lord for what He might be saying to me, so I looked up scriptures relating to ‘voice’ and was impressed anew by the majesty and power of our God.
Sometimes he speaks so quietly we miss His message, not because he has laryngitis—he doesn’t!!! But because He wants us to listen carefully for His words; to tune out the things of the world and pay attention to Him.
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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 the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13
Yes, the voice of God can be quiet and comforting—even conversational at times—but it can also be frightening. The incredible power and majesty of His voice are indescribable, but Elihu and David gave it a pretty good try. I would imagine that even as they spoke/wrote these words they must have felt they weren’t even coming close to doing Him justice.
At this also my heart trembles and leaps out of its place. Keep listening to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice, and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. Job 37:1-5
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare and in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! Psalm 129
Heeding God’s voice results in blessings, but destruction comes when He is ignored or denied.
If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. 1 Samuel 12:14-15
As the prophet Samuel encouraged the people of Israel to obey God’s voice, so we are also enjoined to listen carefully.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:7-15
After living in the California desert for over a year I longed for a glimpse of the ocean, and the day finally arrived when I got my first look at the mighty Pacific—Southern California style. I was surprised and disappointed beyond belief because homes, businesses and roads hugged the sand from Redondo Beach to Malibu; miles and miles of congestion with masses of people swarming the beaches. Where was the lush vegetation? Where were the majestic cliffs? I felt kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she awoke and discovered she was certainly not in Kansas anymore.
In Northern California the coastline is magnificently green and rugged, with huge rocks around which wonderful tide pools form when the tide is out. Long stretches of beach are almost uninhabited by people, and boats often bob around on their anchors in natural harbors instead of being confined to massive marinas such as in Newport Beach or Marina Del Rey.
The Pacific of the North Coast can be dangerous though, with violent storms and treacherous currents being the cause of many shipwrecks. At the entrance of Humboldt Bay alone, just about every kind of vessel imaginable has gone down—from 1800’s sailing ships to fishing boats to passenger ships to Navy destroyers and submarines. Nine historic lighthouses dot the coast from Point Reyes on the south to Crescent City on the north, all of which were built in an effort to safeguard these ocean-going vessels, warning them to navigate around hazardous spots and providing lights in the darkness. Foghorns also abound, giving audible alerts of dangerous rocks or shoals.
Just like the Northern California coast, life itself can be a dangerous place. We are surrounded by evil, with one stormy trial after another occurring throughout our time on earth. Fortunately, as the lighthouses and foghorns direct ships away from harm, so do Jesus as our Light and the Holy Spirit as our teacher guide us through life; providing for our every need and warning us of the pitfalls ahead.
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John14:26)
Paul Bunyon and Babe, his big blue ox, stand welcoming tourists to the Trees of Mystery. Just over 49 feet tall, Paul is said to have dug the Grand Canyon simply by dragging his ax behind him as he and Babe walked across the land. Now, with a wave and a wink and a lot of talking, he entices visitors to enter the groomed trail through the redwoods where they can not only view the wonders of these mighty trees, but can also be entertained by the legends of Paul’s exploits as a giant lumberjack. There’s only one catch—there is an admission fee—no money; no mysteries revealed. Oh, you can still wander through the End of the Trail Museum, learning about the lifestyle of early Native Americans; or visit the very-nice gift shop that offers temptations galore for great souvenirs; but only wandering along the mysterious forest path makes the day complete.
Much of life is like that. There is a cost for just about everything—food, lodging, entertainment—and very little is free. There is one great big exception though, because the full price has already been paid in advance. Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, came to earth and offered Himself on the cross, paying the penalty that is required for man’s redemption from sin. But He didn’t stop there; he also sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Teacher, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26-27)
The Ben Franklin Five and Dime at the Arcata Plaza was doing a booming business—it was 1958 and hula hoops were a nationwide craze. Kids, myself included, were all over the plaza, whirling and twirling those brand new hoops around our waists and from every appendage.
Fifty-some years later, the Plaza that I remember so well was still there; the surrounding businesses now a more eclectic mix of shops and restaurants, and the Ben Franklin building housing a furniture store. But that was OK because I wasn’t shopping for hula hoops this time—I was browsing bookstores, hoping to find unique-to-the-area publications featuring the redwoods. I did make a few good discoveries, but there wasn’t much that couldn’t be picked up at any local tourist trap. Perhaps these ancient trees are just too big to describe adequately via the written word; only in their presence can their majesty be experienced.
A few days ago, reading through the gospels, I was struck anew by the fact that there’s really not a lot written about Jesus’ life on earth either—just four short books, with many of the events of His life duplicated in two or more places. And yet, in those few pages, lies the greatest biography ever recorded. How can so few words hold so much truth? How can the brief accounts of His teachings convey everything we need to know in order to have a relationship with God? How can each passage be so simple that a little child can understand, yet so complex that every time you read it you may see something new? I think it’s because the words were inspired by the best communicator ever—the Holy Spirit; and He knew exactly what we needed.
The Apostle John said it well as he concluded his account with, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)
The majesty of the redwoods forests is nothing compared to the majesty of Jesus; and only though relationship as we sit in His presence can we even begin to comprehend the fullness of Christ.