How does God get your attention? How do you pray for God to attend to you? When God shows up, do you recognize and accept how God comes? Today’s lectionary readings hold examples of two such situations for our consideration.
In the first, we have the story of Elijah the prophet on the mountain of Horeb who was instructed by God to leave the cave where he had found shelter in order to encounter “the Lord who will be passing by.” All sorts of wild signs arose: heavy wind, earthquake, fire…extraordinary conditions that might suggest such an extraordinary vision – but no, the Lord was in none of those signs. Thank goodness Elijah was astute enough to recognize the Lord “in a tiny whispering sound” or he would have missed God’s visitation. (1 KGS 19: 9-13) So God might show up anywhere, any time and we need to be ready for the unexpected.
In the gospel, there is also an unexpected event – a storm on the sea – when Jesus is off on a mountain by himself and the disciples are in a boat with waves crashing mightily against it, suggesting it might sink. This time, God sends Jesus walking toward them and they don’t recognize him because he is – like in the Book of Kings – coming in a way that seems impossible. He’s walking on the water. Peter, the impetuous one, challenges the vision that they think is a ghost by saying, “If it’s you, tell me to come to you across the water.” When Jesus says, “Come,” Peter jumps in and does fine until he remembers that he is doing something impossible so he starts to sink. Jesus saves him, of course. (MT 14: 22-33)
So whether God shows up in the ordinary, or in some totally incredible circumstance, we need to be ready and open to accept and respond to what comes to us, even if it calls us to trust what seems impossible, in order to have an experience that is beyond anything we have ever known.