Late summer and early fall are crazy seasons in my life. I have preteen children, so our house is a whir of activity: back-to-school prep, then gearing up for the new schedule, getting our brains and bodies adjusted to the onslaught of homework and the crunch of a tight daily routine, both for the kids and the parents.
But somewhere around mid-October, something miraculous happens. I call it “golden time.” Hundred-degree temperatures transition to chilly nights and mornings. The sun begins to set earlier, and my pace begins to cycle down a bit. Leaves start to turn from vibrant summer-green to the rich, warm hues of red, orange, yellow, and chocolate brown. Blankets and slippers start appearing. We start craving soups and stews, light a fire in the fireplace.
Life begins to ease from a roar to a whisper.
My soul welcomes the quiet. While spring, summer, and early fall are exciting, autumn offers a special time of slowing down, like a reset button. I find myself reading more books, or watching more movies as a family. I enjoy my Saturday morning coffee on the porch and wind up staying out there until noon, watching the squirrels chase each other and the leaves fall, reading the Bible, and tuning my heart to God and His creation. Quick exercise walks turn into longer strolls.
It’s a season of contemplation. God is with me always, but sometimes I hear God better then—mostly because I’ve slowed down enough to hear Him.
The story of God’s prophet Elijah reminds me of this. In 1 Kings, Elijah and God’s other prophets were greatly upset when the king of Israel, Ahab, married a Phoenician woman, Jezebel, who worshipped Baal and eventually had all of God’s prophets executed. Elijah was the only one who escaped. He fled for his life and hid in a cave, where he had a God encounter.
As the story recounts, God asked what Elijah was doing there. Elijah explained why he was there and from whom he was running, and God told him to go stand upon the mountain, for He was 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. 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 NIV).
God, as the story tells us, was in the whisper.
Sometimes, we expect grandiose displays from God. But God is God, not human. His way is not our own. When He sent his Son to walk among us, Jesus wasn’t a golden, majestic tower of a man astride a mighty beast but into the family of a lowly carpenter, born in a stable among the animals. And yet from such apparent weakness was revealed our Savior.
As I wrap my snuggly blanket around my shoulders and settle into the coziness of fall, I am grateful for the extra quiet time to connect with my Lord.
And as the season heightens into the hectic pace of the holidays and, soon, into spring and summer once again, I pray I can hold onto that whisper of God both in the busy and in the still.