Throughout the Bible God’s miraculous events are often accompanied with great fanfare.
Often they are marked with much noise, loud shouts, trumpets and the like. Often they are accompanied by some great natural event to show that the God of Israel is the God of all the universe and he has command over nature – command over all Creation, for it is His creation.
As a people we expect this and I do not think any people expect this more than Americans, because after all we like things big and noisy. Somehow big and noisy have become synonymous with the great and the special and especially the powerful.
- Mardi Gras: Big and Noisy
- NASCAR: Noisy, fast-paced
- Rock Concerts: the more decibels the better
- Sturgis: Big, loud, lots of excitement
- Restaurants: We want the food hanging over the plate.
- We are truly a “Go Big or Go Home” people.
When it comes to God, people have always had that “Go Big or Go Home” mentality. When God does something or is getting ready to do something WE WANT IT BIG.
Take a look at the Exodus. Nothing small here. Ten plagues not aimed at a specific person but at the entire population. God goes before his people in a pillar of fire and finally parts the Red Sea and totally destroys Pharaoh’s army. God is Big and He ain’t going home.
The Fall of Jericho as told in Joshua. Lots of noise lots of show and total destruction. These are just two examples but you can find many more from the Great Flood to the destruction of the Tower of Babel. When God does something He does it big.
So it is right that we expect our Big God to do Big things. We want this in our life. We want what we want and we want it to be big and life changing. We want the miracle – that one big, larger-than-life event that will change our present and our future forever. When we do not get it in connection with God we become discouraged and many people turn away. The problem we face is that most people do not see the forest for the trees. The life changing event can stare them in the face and yet they do not see because it was not given the way they wanted.
Today, we celebrate the most life-changing event ever, THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST.
This event turned everything on its head and continues to do so today. It changed the entire world. That event said no to death and to sin and it continues to say so today. A day that was supposed to have been a day of mourning became, by the power of God, a day of life-changing gladness. The disciples who had expected to go back to their previous lives had a life-altering experience and this experience sent them on a path to glory, yet they were not immune to sadness and strife. And but for the power of God that broke open the tomb, every encounter they had with Jesus was a quiet encounter.
Except for a few times the crowds gathered around and made a big noise, most of Jesus ministry and most of his encounters be they the calling the disciples or healing were private matters with little or no fanfare.
Yet, we often expect our encounters with God to be miraculous, big event that change our lives at a moment’s notice. For many people this does happen, but for many more God comes in those quiet moments: in the garden, along the road, in a locked room, along a lakeshore. He speaks to us in quiet whispers of reassurance and comfort. He strengthens us with the gentle encouragements of His Word and the words He speaks to our hearts. In quiet He is that constant companion that remains with us long after all the noise and activity of the day is gone. If we are open to His Spirit and if we are honest we might well find that all those quiet moments upon quiet moments of His diligent ministry will end up being a pretty big miraculous event when taken in their totality.
As I said, people look for life changing moments when they seek to encounter God. They pray that some situation in their life that is causing them great distress would be changed. When Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane He too prayed that the distress of the cross would be taken away. It was not, yet God strengthen Him so He could withstand the ordeal He faced and when that ordeal killed Him God restored Him to life while he was yet in his quiet grave. In life we face many ordeals that we are certain will crush us – family problems, loss of loved ones and so forth. God does not always take away those things in a flash of light and noise, but He will be with us quietly accompanying us and sustaining us.
I remember a story I heard a long time ago. I do not remember the details but it went something like this: A man was in a battle and the fight was raging all around him and he prayed to God to get him out of the fight. At that moment God spoke to him and said, “I will not take you out of here because this is where you are and where you are supposed to be, but I will sustain you.” This assured him of two things:
- Regardless of what happened – whether he lived or died – things were okay because God held his ultimate destiny and
- Because of this understanding, he was able to let go of trying to control all that was going on around him and was able to focus on what he needed to do. The fellow said he had never felt such peace, before or since.
Jesus let go and trusted in His Father and rose again.
This man let go and trusted in God and came through the battle.
In whatever battles we face we can trust that God will bring us through them bringing peace into the chaos and suffering, perhaps not with great noise and fanfare or miraculous events but with a quiet and loving spirit.
Do not become discouraged at the lack of miraculous life changing events in your life – taken in context that already happened on a Sunday long ago. Rather find comfort in the quiet companionship of the Lord, as it says in Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.”