by Peter Lockhart
Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces 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 a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)
In the story of the prophet Elijah, Elijah decides that he has had enough and he runs away hoping to find a place to die. In this somewhat deserted place God shows up appearing in the sheer silence outside Elijah's cave.
For many people the interest in this story has been about lsitening for God in sheer silence and teaching the discipline of silence. Yet Elijah wasn't seeking God's presence, unless you can call asking to die seeking God's presence. So at the heart of the story is a more fundmanetal question "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
This is a far more confronting question for any of us "What are we doing where we are?" How did we come to be here? Were we running away from God? Were we seeking death, or life? Do we even know how we got to be where we are?
The discipline of answering this question that God asks of us "What are you doing here?" in an moment of our lives should not be about navel gazing but hearing the challenge of what God has asked of us in creating us for a purpose.
As people touched by God's grace in Jesus' life this question is not about justifying our own existence but celebrating God's love for us through living out our baptism in our discipleship.
I wonder if you heard God asking you now "What are you doing here?" how you would respond.