1-12 Then [Elijah] was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.
13-14 When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” 1 Kings 19: 11-14 (MSG)
The night before every off-site group departs for their various adventures through FLBC, we all participate in a “Wilderness Worship,” a liturgical setting arranged to open ourselves to the deep, abiding silences that surround and are within us. When I was first a counselor at FLBC, this passage struck me, but the message didn’t quite resonate. Wasn’t God to be found in the overt, staggering power of wind, earthquake, and fire? Are these not transformative, regenerative places where God abides?
The more time I’ve spent in wilderness settings, the more this passage has solidified itself for me. The stealth and subtlety found in quiet moments in wild landscapes is matched only by their unique ability to form us at our most foundational levels. So many of my favorite memories have come with silence and stillness in the mountains. I’ve learned of patience, empowerment, humility, love, generosity, resilience, and so much more through these experiences.
These still spaces live within us always. This morning, take some time to think about moments where you felt connected to this reality. Can you still feel that moment working in you? How have those experiences shaped your life?
“Give us good courage, not knowing where we go; to know that your hand is leading us, wherever we might go.”
If you have any profound wilderness/stillness experiences to share, we’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Jacob Kvale is the Wilderness/Operations Director at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, where he has been serving in a year-round capacity for three years. He spent three formative summers at FLBC as a counselor (2015-2017). Jacob loves playing and listening to music, and hiking, skiing, and mountain biking (especially with good friends).