“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"- 1 Kings 19:11-13
Today's devotion is taken from my book The Lost Heart of Discipline. It is about a man named Roy Weece who I met briefly twenty years ago. Roy, who has since passed away, was a campus minister legendary for his Bible memorization and passion for telling others about Jesus.
“My favorite Roy story seems impossible, but if you ever met him you would never doubt it. Once, a friend gave Roy the name and address of a man in need of spiritual help, hoping Roy would stop by and talk to him. Sometime later, while praying, Roy felt God urging him to go and visit the man immediately. Since it was a workday, he didn't think the man would be home, but, wanting to be obedient, Roy got out the address and drove over.
He knocked on the front door not expecting an answer, but, to his surprise, the door opened. “Hello, my name is Roy Weece,” he began, “and I was wondering if I might take a few moments to talk to you about Jesus.” Astonishment swept over the man’s face. “Uh, sure,” he answered, “come in.” After Roy entered, the man told him the reason for his surprise. “I have a loaded gun in the other room,” he explained, “and I was about to kill myself. But as I sat there holding the gun, I prayed, ‘God, if you are real, send someone to talk to me about you.’ Just at that moment you knocked on my door.”
Are you available for God to use? It probably won't mean driving across town and knocking on the front door of a total stranger. But are you available for God to use in your workplace, in your school, in your neighborhood, and in your family? Basically, it begins with that quiet voice. You know the one. It is not much louder than a whisper but it carries with it a weight far beyond its volume. It is the voice that asks you to do the right thing, to sacrifice your time and energy for others, and to take the narrow road. When you hear that quiet voice asking you to do something do you obey?
“I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” - John 12:24
I didn't get much sleep last night. My oldest son has a cold and he and I slept downstairs to keep everyone else from being disturbed by his cough. It worked...for everyone except me. The ananlogy I'm about to make may seem a bit remote, but hang with me. It will come around.
In 480 BC, the Persian King, Xerxes, led a massive force into Greece with plans of destrying the Greek city-states and continuing on into Europe. As part of the Greek strategy, a band of 300 Spartan warriors led by Leonidas headed out on a suicide mission for a strategic pass called Thermopylae. Chris and Ted Steward explain the importance of the pass:
Some hundred miles northwest of Athens, Thermoplylae was a critical choke point through which the entire Persian army would have to pass. Edged by steep mountains and the sea, the narrow passage was only about twenty yards wide. There was also an ancient wall that could be rebuilt quickly. With the sea protecting the Greek's flank to the right and the steep, sheer base of Mount Kallidromos protecting their left, the advantage of the innumerable Persians would be mitigated at the pass.”
And so it was. For two days, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans held off a massive army of tens of thousands. There incredible success may have continued except for a Greek traitor who told Xerxes of a goat path that led over the mountain. On the third day, the Persians made their way over the mountain and surrounded the Spartans. Even facing certain defeat, the Spartans fought valiantly, severely wounding the confidence of the Persians. In the end, virtually all of the Greeks were killed.
But, as it turned out, that wasn't the end. In defeat, the Spartans had brought about victory. For until that time, there was essentially no national Greek identity. All of the city-states served their own purposes and couldn't be counted upon for the greater good of the Greeks. Yet Thermoplylae changed all of that. Ernie Bradford explains:
Have you lost your temper lately? Well, at least it wasn't captured on video for all the world to see. Here is Carlos Perez having a really bad day:
Did you know that we lose our temper for three reasons: our values, our wants, and our self-image? We get angry about our values because they are the things we hold most strongly. For instance, what are the two topics you aren't supposed to talk about at a dinner party? Religion and politics. Because we value those things so strongly they cause arguments. We get angry about our wants because our heart has become involved. For instance, if I want a promotion at work and the other guy gets it, so I become angry. Finally, we get angry because of our self-image. If people think badly of us (or we think they do) we become angry in order to defend our identity.
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." -James 1:12
In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam, a pair of half-sized Hobbits, are charged with the impossible task of taking Sauron's evil ring into his own realm so that it can be destroyed. As the journey nears its end, for good or ill, Sam begins to reflect on being in an adventure.
“...we shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside of it call a good end.”
“If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth!” (Proverbs 30:32)
The Last Battle is the concluding work in C. S. Lewis' famous The Chronicles of Narnia series.
In the book, the antagonists are an ape named Shift and his associate, a donkey named Puzzle. Well, actually, Puzzle isn't really a bad guy, but rather only a simple guy, and Shift constantly manipulates Puzzle into doing the wrong thing.
The plot of the story gets underway when Shift and Puzzle come across a lion skin floating in a pool. Shift will eventually dress Puzzle up in the lion's skin and try to trick people into believing that Puzzle is Aslan the Great Lion.
Yet, as the pair stumbles upon the skin, Shift manipulates Puzzle into going into the pool and retrieving it.
It is that dialogue that got me thinking.
“That yellow thing that's just come down the waterfall. Look! There it is again, it's floating. We must find out what it is.”
“Must we?” said Puzzle.
“Of course we must,” said Shift. “It may be something useful. Just hop into the Pool like a good fellow and fish it out. Then we can have a proper look at it.”
“Hop into the Pool?” said Puzzle, twitching his long ears.
“Well how are we to get it if you don't?” said the Ape.
“But-but,” said Puzzle, “wouldn't it be better if you went in? Because, you see it's you who wants to know what it is, and I don't much...
“Really, Puzzle,” said Shift, “I didn't think you'd ever say a thing like that. It didn't think it of you, really.”