Musa Gotom: Ordinary ways

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There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:9-12

“The Lord had not directed Elijah to come back to Mount Carmel, so he asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asked Elijah this question to remind him that he could have looked to the Lord anywhere in Israel. If the Lord could hear and answer his prayers on Mount Carmel, He could hear him anywhere…Elijah presented his complains before the Lord: Israel had rejected the covenant, broken down the altars, and killed the prophets of the Lord… The Lord responded by telling him to stand on the mountain before the Lord, just as Moses had when God appeared to him in the wilderness. This command was followed by three signs: first a strong wind that shattered the rocks, then an earthquake, and then a fire. The fire was followed by the sound of a quiet voice… The gentle quiet voice shows that the Lord uses ordinary ways to speak. He does not always need to use powerful events to bring His words.”

Musa Gotom (Nigeria) in “1 Kings” in Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo, General Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 439.

It’s humbling to admit but I can relate to this text in real time. Elijah has just experienced great victory. Then, in the face of the greatest danger of his life, He runs to where he thinks he can find God instead of just calling to Him.

The movement of God in Togo has been as powerful as we experienced in Benin with victories despite double the difficulties to get a visa, to arrange logistics, and to navigate issues that could have divided the team. It’s been really hard.

So, like Elijah, my tendency is to want to run to some place of familiarity. I tell myself in the moment. Breath, Gary. Just breath. You can do this. You can pray right where you are and God will respond in ordinary ways.

How generous is our God that we don’t have to go to a location or have wifi to reach him? I say this in part because the 6 hours I spent in Cameroon this past week without connectivity stretched me and enhanced my prayer life.

As you read this, Samson and I will be arriving in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Reply if you want a copy of our Benin and Togo trip reports. And know this next time you feel despair: call to God where you are and listen for the whisper.