The Sound of a Low Whisper

Written by: One America Movement

Contributors: Pastor Larry Lin and Senior Content Manager April Brooks

In the current condition of our world, people who are lonely or feeling uncertain often crave human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to form connections with other people. Loneliness can cause people to feel empty, alone, or unwanted. Tristan Harris, the co-founder of the Center of Humane Technology, said in the well-known documentary The Social Dilemma, “We’re training and conditioning a whole new generation of people that, when we are uncomfortable or lonely, uncertain, or afraid, we have a digital pacifier for ourselves.” 

There are tremendous ramifications in this for people of faith. Sometimes we are uncomfortable for a reason. Sometimes things are boring or hard or rub us the wrong way because it is God whispering to us to make a change, to see from a new perspective, or to learn and grow. But it is hard to hear God’s still, small voice when we urgently fill our minds and hearts with an endless news feed.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah had a public showdown with the prophets of Baal to prove who worshiped the true God. In a magnificent display of power, God rained down fire that consumed an offering on an altar and the whole altar itself. Soon after, Elijah is on the run, afraid for his life because of the prophets’ anger upon him. During his journey, God provided rest and food for his fight and later spoke to Elijah on Mount Horeb. 

“And [the Lord] 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)

In front of the prophets, God showed up in a powerful way. But when Elijah was alone and tuning into God’s voice, God wasn’t in the strong wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead, He showed up in the sound of a low whisper.

There is a powerful principle in this passage. Sometimes the way God meets us is not in the exhilarating, the awesome, and the mind-blowing life experiences but in the quiet, the still, and the ordinary.

In her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren writes, “​​A sign hangs on the wall in a New Monastic Christian community house: ‘Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.’  

We are all often guilty of being that person who longs for revolution–for things to be made new and whole in beautiful and big ways. But we all need a gentle reminder that we can’t get to the revolution without learning to do the dishes. 

The spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the life of faith are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. We often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith—the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small—that God’s transformation takes root and grows.

The truly important things in the Christian life may often seem ordinary. But guess what? God specializes in producing extraordinary wonders through the routine, rote, and ordinary. When we pray, it may not seem like much is happening. But when we pray every day for a whole year, our lives will be transformed. 

The world of social media is filled with supposed “revolutions.” It is filled with strong winds, earthquakes, and fires. Everything feels so loud, critical, and urgent. But let us be mindful not to allow the urgent to replace the important.

Should we stop using social media altogether? Maybe some of us will decide that social media isn’t necessary for our lives, and we will choose to remove all our apps. But for others who still want to use social media, the best step is to set healthy boundaries around social media usage. We need to ensure that the time we spend on social media is reasonable and that the emotions we exert on social media are appropriate.

Here are some simple steps to foster healthy social media usage:

  • Go to your phone’s settings, and turn off all social media notifications. This change allows you to visit the apps when you are ready, and NOT only when you feel prompted by visual notifications.

  • Set aside at least one hour every day when you are not using a phone or computer, and use this time to be present.

  • Before scrolling on social media, look at the time and decide when you will close the app. Set your phone’s timer, or set up screen time limitations in your phone settings if you think you would need a nudge at the end. 

  • If you ever sense an unhealthy level of emotions while scrolling social media (anger, sadness, jealousy, etc.), allow yourself a break from social media for the rest of the day. 

  • Ask yourself which accounts stir up negative or problematic emotions for you, and consider unfollowing them for a while. Seek out positive influencers to follow instead.

Let’s not allow the loudness of social media to drown out the low whispers of life.

The One America Movement’s Matthew 5:9 Fellowship has developed a social media curriculum for Christian youth groups. Click here to learn more and sign up for resources for your congregation.

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