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After one of his big show-downs, the prophet Elijah retreated (or ran!) to safety, with God guiding him to Mount Horeb. There, huddling in a cave, Elijah was feeling pretty sorry for himself. When God came to him and asked him what he was so upset about, Elijah began to list all the things that were going wrong.

(“I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10)

God tells Elijah to go stand at the mouth of the cave and, when he does, he gets to see an earthquake, a strong wind, and a fire. But it also says that God wasn’t in any of those things.

Then comes a whisper.

I was thinking of that passage because this can easily become a pretty loud time of year. Lots of shopping and cooking and all that jazz. Wrapping presents and going to parties and singing carols. And it can all get overwhelming.

And even though we tell ourselves that we’re doing this to celebrate the birth of the Son of God, I think if we looked at it with Elijah’s eyes, we’d see that God’s not in our hustling or our bustling. Like Elijah, we need to get to a place (physically, but mostly mentally and spiritually) where we can listen to the whisper of God.

I know I’m guilty of following the first part of Elijah’s lead (complaining to God) but then I want to jump up and go about my day. What I need to do is stay on my knees (or in my chair, or standing in the backyard, wherever I am) and listen. Just be quiet. No music, no TV, nothing going on around me but maybe an open Bible in my lap. Just be quiet and listen to God.

[Yes, I know: there is no perfectly quiet place in our lives. Even if the house isn’t creaking, there are cars driving by outside and crickets and stuff. And there’s the issue of time. I might be able to find an evening of quiet one day, but another day five minutes of locking myself in the bathroom might be all I can expect. The point is: I need to go looking for these times and facing them on purpose, not just assuming they’ll come eventually.]

This year, I’m sure you’ll hear “Silent Night, Holy Night” at least once. Make sure you seek out a holy time by finding a silent time. Just listen for God. (One more thought: it takes practice.)

Here’s hoping you have a Silent Christmas sometime soon!