Under Radar: God Loves To Begin His Movements “Anonymously”
1 Kings 18:43-46 NIV
“Go and look toward the sea,” [Elijah] told his servant.
And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported,
“A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab,
‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds,
the wind rose,
a heavy rain started falling
and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.
The power of the Lord came on Elijah and,
tucking his cloak into his belt,
he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
The servant kept looking for an additional appearance of God,
a further example of His power,
a sign that He was finally going to end the three year long drought that had crushed the Judean countryside.
The servant saw nothing time and time again (though of course that didn’t mean that nothing was there!),
and when he finally did see the seedlings of God’s impending thunderstorm,
he mentioned that it appeared “as small as a man’s hand.”
That is, the storm that would engulf the land in life-giving rain began as
a tiny cloud,
a miniature vapor,
a thin mist,
an easily overlooked puff,
a meager wisp;
the impending power of God began “as small as a man’s hand.”
God is secure enough in His identity as God that He doesn’t always need
to trumpet Himself (though He would have every right to do so!),
to roll out the red carpet,
to call a press conference,
to create buzz,
to generate “hits” and “likes,”
to cause a stir, etc.
He often likes to begin a great display of His power
under the radar,
behind the scenes,
off the map,
using not the finest/shiniest tools but
discarded people–meager wisps of humanity–
sinners like you and me!
Just as the great storm to end the three year Judean drought in 1 Kings 18 began as an insignificant wisp “as small as a man’s hand,”
God began other great movements of His power and love in seemingly insignificant and often overlooked ways:
1. The Son of God Himself arrived on earth as a tiny baby growing in the womb of an unmarried teenage virgin girl in a rural village, a dusty backwater corner of the Roman Empire.
2. As Jesus left earth to return to His throne in heaven, He entrusted His powerful message of unearnable grace/forgiveness/love to uneducated fisherman, a despised tax collector, and ceremonially unclean Gentiles, a few handfuls of men and women without clout, power, riches, or connections;
Acts 4:13 NLT:
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John,
for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures.
They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
3. God raised up a lowly teenager named Esther to become queen of Persia and save God’s people from genocide;
4. God empowered an overlooked 14 year old boy named David to do what the seasoned warriors of Israel could/would not: to stand defiantly with only a slingshot and five stones before a nine foot tall giant named Goliath;
5. God called a stammering murderer, a lowly shepherd, a senior citizen of eighty years old, to stand boldly before the greatest ruler of the time (Pharoah of Egypt) to demand (not ask) that God’s Hebrew people be released from slavery.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NLT:
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise.
And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all,
and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
So what’s the point here, what are the takeaways, what are we supposed to do with this information?
1. If you feel overlooked, discarded, on the trash heap, insignificant…that is not how God sees you. If you trust in Jesus, accepting His free gift of forgiveness for your sins, He will accept you as you are and then He will teach you to do that which is impossible for you apart from God: noticing Him, loving Him, following Him, putting Him and others before yourself, forgiving those who mistreat you, and pouring out your life daily to help introduce others to the One Who adopted you into His royal family and offers the same unbelievable inheritance to them;
2. If God feels far from you, if it feels as if He has gone “radio silent” from your life, keep looking for Him as the servant did in 1 Kings 18 above, seven times or even seven hundred times. Scan the horizon, squint your eyes, intensify your focus, never give up and keep looking to the Bible and through prayer to get glimpses of the One Who is the truest satisfaction of the desires of your soul, to the One Who did not appear to Elijah in an earthquake, a storm, lightning, or fire but Who met with Elijah as a still, small whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12 NLT).
3. If you are desiring to see revival, to see a great movement of God in your life, your family, your church, your community, your city, don’t come up to the plate each day swinging for a home run; stand at the plate looking for a good pitch, looking to make solid contact. The homeruns will come if the LORD wants them to. Simply start small in the circles God has placed you, begin sacrificially and “foolishly” serving/loving others within your arms reach. Be that cloud–wispy, overlooked, “insignificant”, and seemingly a far distance away from where the “real action is”–as small as a man’s hand but as powerful as a hurricane in the Hand of Him Who begins the greatest storms with the smallest drops of rain.