Several years ago, a medical student participated with me for a dermatopathology elective. During his high school and undergraduate college years, he achieved some success as a concert pianist. My love of music was an easy bridge to many animated conversations about classical music. I was intrigued by what characteristics makes one concert pianist stand out from others and asked him if he could illustrate the nuances of great performances. Eagerly accepting the challenge, he brought in two recordings of a well-known Chopin piano concerto, performed by two master pianists. We listened to one recording without comment, the mellifluous tones filled my office. He then played the second recording. Juxtaposed in this manner, subtle differences emerged, but I was unsure if they were relevant. After the musical passages were completed, my student smiled and asked me, “So what did you think?”
“The first recording…” I hesitatingly began. “The pianist took it a much faster pace. He even had a louder volume. Am I on the right track?”
“Good! Good!” my student was ebullient. “What else?”
I again hesitated, unsure if what I was hearing was relevant. “For the second pianist, there was a slight pause after he completed the first phrase in the opening passage. The first pianist did not pause and played through it.” Seeking affirmation, I queried my student, “Is this significant?”
“Yes! Yes!” The student leapt to his feet. “This is what makes him such a master at interpretation. That slight pause! It captures your attention!”
How subtle, I reflected! A slight pause, almost imperceptible had I not been listening for it. How many other subtleties of the performance did I miss?
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV)
For most of my life, God needs to break through my pride and stubbornness and hit my head with a spiritual two by four. But God speaks to me and all of us in many different ways. I hear Him when I am experiencing pain and sadness or pleasure and happiness. These feeling are palpable and are not easily missed. It is in the quieter moments, pauses in the cacophony of life, that I may miss His voice and guidance.
A slight pause, a low whisper. How many other subtleties of God’s guidance have I missed? How many times have I shouted, demanding an answer from God, when He was quietly whispering to me?
Lord, help me to calm and humble myself to hear You speaking to me when You are whispering.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.