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 19:11-12
I heard this morning that the original translation of “a gentle whisper” in the verse above is actually closer to “a thin silence”. Yes, there are times when the Lord’s presence in my life feels like a gentle whisper, smooth and comforting. However, in times of difficulty that “thin silence” seems a more apt description; cool, and just barely out of reach. And yet other times the Lord chooses to be so obvious, loud, persistent, blaring -almost like a car alarm.
Last week I had a quick dentist appointment scheduled to pick up an overly priced mouth guard. I had all the boys with me so obviously this was going to be smooth sailing. I looked high and low for my keys, but they were not going to reveal themselves. I remembered where our spare key was, quickly grabbed it along with some snacks for an impromptu park time afterwards, and we were off.
As we were pulling out of the garage I remembered that the minivan (affectionately called “Blue Car”) was low on gas, and we had just enough time to put some gallons in the old girl on our way. Opening the driver side door, I nearly jumped out of my shoes when the car alarm started going off. Blue Car has developed this nasty habit of randomly sounding her alarm in public places. I quickly reached for my keys so I could push the key fob that would calm her down… but I didn’t have my set of keys. Just the spare key with no fob.
Surely this blaring alarm would turn off once I turned on the car? Nope. Once I unlocked all the doors? Nope. We had 15 minutes until my dentist appointment. I put the car in drive, and shrugged my shoulders at the other AM/PM customers. There was nothing I could do. And off we drove down Woodinville-Duvall Road, Blue Car in all her glory, causing other drivers to stare at me like I didn’t know my car alarm was going off. The best part is that Blue Car has a bumper sticker on her that says, “I used to be cool.” It’s like she was mocking me.
I wish I could say I handled all this with my grace and dignity intact like a good Proverbs 31 woman, but I did not. I loudly told the kids to be quiet so I could figure things out (which was comically ridiculous as it was obvious to all of Woodinville at this point that nothing was louder than my own car alarm). I called Mark, and with him on speaker phone, loudly told him that if we couldn’t afford to fix Blue Car immediately, then obviously the cost of living is too high for us, which could only mean that obviously we would have to move. I was all logic and reason as Blue Car honked away in the Park and Ride. Eventually she calmed down enough for us to figure out how I could get in and out of the car without the alarm blaring. We got to the dentist. The mouthguard was incorrectly made, and I had to reschedule. “Oh, was that you driving with the car alarm?” they asked me.
Later, sitting in the sunshine at the park, I thought back on how I handled our morning. Did we really have to move because of Blue Car’s antics? No. Did I feel responsible for the anxiety it all caused my poor kiddos in the backseat who whimpered things like, “Are the helper cars going to pull us over?” and “Mama, right now I am feeling nervous” Yes, I felt responsible. And for some reason, it got me wondering if our Lord can relate to Blue Car. Honking the horn, flashing the lights, being unsociably loud, only to have me just continue on my way, more annoyed that I can’t get to where I want to go, than I am concerned with the fact that there’s alarm bells all over the path I’m choosing.
Tonight, at dinner, we ended up reading the story of the birth of Jesus. Mark made the boys startle and giggle when he spoke in a loud booming voice, “Fear not!” It got me thinking of car alarms, and thin silences, and the choices we make. May we listen closely this week to all He has to say.