We can find God in the still small voice, in the gentle breeze within us.
It is an essential part of the nature of the divine-human dialogue that it respects our humanity and addresses us in language we can understand. So, Elijah learns that God does not enforce attention by overwhelming us with ‘supernatural’ manifestations so much as respect our human routes to the divine, built into our nature. God is ‘built in’. We can find God in the still small voice, in the gentle breeze, within us. This is the nature of the dialogue. It breathes with our breath. It comes as a breeze, to suggest rather than to demand or cajole, to win over rather than to overwhelm. It belongs to the Spirit within us. This we hear, like Elijah and we want to cover our faces, not to hide but to go out of the cave of ourselves to stand at the entrance of our cave – drawn to meet God in all that exists.
Paul is torn apart by what he feels is his need to help his family of Israel. This comes through Paul’s inner voice (the gentle breeze) in union with Christ. He witnesses to the divine election of his own people as partners ‘adopted as sons and daughters’ in the long history of the covenant relationship. ‘From their flesh and blood came Christ, who is above all.’ What had been hinted at before Christ in so many ways – that election did not mean exclusive possession of the relationship but was intended for the inclusive turning out towards all the nations – receives here its fulfilment in ‘Christ, who is above all’. The spirit of God blows as breezes blow – everywhere, for everyone. Still Paul feels the anguish of one unable to help his brothers and sisters feel the breeze which made them partners in the divine relationship – that relationship which produced Christ from the flesh and blood of their people.
Matthew places Jesus at the centre of a story about courage and trust. We have to have courage to believe that God can come to us and we can trust that Divine coming – in the shape and reality of another human being. God speaks through humanity with a human voice. The gentle breeze becomes a human voice and presence in Jesus. The disciples could not fathom out how, having left Jesus on the far side of the Lake at night fall, they could now see him after one storm and gale of a night, coming towards them on the side of the lake they were now approaching. No wonder they thought it was a ghost! Jesus, I like to imagine, ran steadily all night round the Sea of Galilee, through wind and rain, over hill and wadi to get to the far side of the lake whilst the disciples battled across the lake against the head wind. We get hung up needlessly on the question of miracles and so miss the underlying message. It takes courage and trust to believe that God speaks to us in a loving, saving dynamic. We flounder and sink and cannot believe that God holds a hand out to prevent us sinking!