Why are you here?

I have the privilege of working at a Christian university, and one of the perks is prayer with my colleagues. Recently, the leadership team took on a daily devotional regarding work/life balance (whatever that is!). We each took one day to expand upon that day’s message for the team, and I ended up with day 6. The devotional talked that day about the need to rest from work in order to concentrate on relationships with one’s family–particularly naming spouse and children. Of all the days, how did I end up with this one? And so I wrote….

When I first read this devotional, I had to ask the Lord, “Why me on this day?” I don’t have a husband. I don’t have small children at home. Of everyone on this team, I would be the one most likely to be overworking and forsaking all balance.

But I’ve learned the hard way that God speaks to me in the quiet places and more than anything else in the world, I long to hear from Him. There’s a story you’ll all be familiar with in I Kings 19, but it bears repeating. When Elijah ran away from Jezebel after she vowed to destroy him, an angel spoke to him, saying, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you” (v. 7). The journey that is not ordained by God will always be “too much” for us. When we feel that our professional lives have become too much, we need to stop…listen…respond.

Elijah was so overwhelmed that he hid in a cave; nevertheless, God brought him out to speak to him. But as Scripture tells us, “…the Lord was not in the wind” (v. 11); “…the Lord was not in the earthquake” (v. 12); nor was He “…in the fire” (v. 12). Instead, God called Elijah out of the cave with “a gentle whisper” (v. 12).

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v. 13) He asked. Clearly, God knew exactly why Elijah was there. But He wanted Elijah to stop and consider for himself. He wanted Elijah to have to carefully listen to that still, small voice. It was only then Elijah could see for himself what was in his heart—the fear and lack of trust that turned him into that cowering mess.

None of us has a Jezebel at our heels, but we all find ourselves running from time to time. We are breathless and overwhelmed, and we may pray for a huge expression of God—a rushing wind, an earthquake, a fire—anything to show us His magnificent power. Yet if we will rest from our running, it is then that He speaks in that oh-so-gentle whisper. The whisper that asks us to ruthlessly examine our motivations: “Why are you here?”

Let us sit quietly today—even for a moment—and really, really listen.



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