Whispers and Storms
Whispers and Storms
A Story of Going Off the Grid Refreshes
How God Speaks + How We Should Listen
BY SARA KERNAN
As night neared in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the sky melted into a display of vibrant purple, pinks, and orange. A fishing boat appeared to be chasing it, finishing up the summer season as August bleeds into September. The vessel broke through the water gently and became a silhouette on a greater canvas. Classic Alaska, showing off again.
This view became my daily view for a precious week this summer when I traded triple digit temperatures for sweatshirt weather, sand in Chacos for Xtra-Tuff rain boots on the rocky coastline. I had spent all of 2018 preparing for the Harvester Island Wilderness Writing Workshop. After encouragement from friends and family, I finally took the leap. I would return to my roots in Alaska to participate in a week long writing workshop.
I came knowing that regardless of what I learned at the workshop, it would be life changing. Yes, I might not leave with a fully drawn out book plan, but I felt it inside me–– I must go.
What I didn’t realize when I stood on the float plane dock preparing to leave for this opportunity was that while I would learn a lot about writing, I mostly had a lot to learn about God.
I am a recent graduate of a Bible college. I know a lot about theology, the Bible, and the church. I am a believer. But what I have in head knowledge does not match what I have in heart knowledge. And I am so quick to forget the truths I know.
I was joined in the workshop with other writers who inspired me in their walks of faith. I sat and listened to testimonies and stories from diverse backgrounds from across the country. Every interaction was rich with deep truth and beautifully articulated words. The way these writers talked about God and how God spoke so clearly to them was breathtaking, inspiring. I thought to myself: I want God to talk to me like that.
I have spent much of my life wishing, and praying, and hoping that God would just speak to me clearly and plainly. I live in fear of “missing” God’s will and just wish He would come out and say it. I’m listening God! Just tell me what to do!
I have wasted a lot of time mistaking silence as absence.
I was reminded during my off-the-grid, unplugged, week away from the world that God speaks how God wants to speak, and His ways are always better than my ways.
As I was reflecting on one of our sessions, I was reminded of two passages, one about Elijah and one about Job. I thought of both of them at the same time and was unsure why (perhaps we miss the Holy Spirit often in moments that are subtle). I thumbed through my Bible and found the passages I was looking for.
First passage, Job, my favorite book of the Bible. After Job cries out to God, God finally responds in Job 38. The Bible says:
“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm” (NIV Job 38:1).
How absolutely terrifying. I don’t know what that looks like but I imagine an Alaskan storm coupled with the very voice of God and I am undone. When God speaks He simply reminds God of all the things that He orchestrates, that He is the great and powerful Creator.
And then Elijah. I was reminded of a sermon by Mark Jobe, author of Unstuck, who focused on the way that God spoke.
“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” (NIV 1 Kings 19:11-12).
A storm. A gentle whisper.
The same God that made butterflies made tigers.
The same God that orchestrates perfect sunshine days is creator of rain and wind.
And the same God that speaks in storms speaks in gentle whispers.
I’m in a bit of a messy season. God is speaking in closed doors and confusing change and I’m desperate for the voice of God. But maybe in my desperation for God speaking to me the way I want Him to speak to me, I have missed the whispers. The whispers found in how flight changes actually get people where they need to be instead of where I think they need to be. Whispers in the provision of a kindred spirit out here in the desert that I call my temporary home. Whispers in simple mercies like a full freezer and $129.50 in loose change finally counted.
Today I am cherishing the whispers and the storms. Today I am trusting God that His plan is better than mine, no matter how He chooses to articulate it.