1 Kings 19:11-12 NRSV
He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” 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.
Author Ruth Haley Barton suggests that the wind, earthquake and fire can be seen as metaphors for the inner chaos that has broken the prophet Elijah and has sent him on a desparate quest to find God again. Speaking of her own “cave on the mountain” she says:
“Am I really worth anything if I’m not out there constantly proving myself? Who am I when I’m not busy doing things that tell the world who I am? Why is it so hard to stop the frantic pace of my life even when I know it’s hurting me and those I love? What do I do with this pain and sadness? What is true and real in my relationship with God and what is really illusion – things I would like to believe are true but really aren’t? Is God really enough to satisfy the loneliness, the emptiness, the longing of my soul?”From “Invitation to Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton, pages 79-80
I identify strongly with these words…I think many of us will! We are forced to face up to our hidden false patterns of thinking and being and doing, once the very absence of God has brought them to the surface. After the fire we wait for God to speak, and that waiting can be a terrible thing. As we wait in silence, a place of longing, expectancy and hope, then maybe, just maybe we are in a place where God can reach us, can speak to us and refocus our lives on our relationship with him. That’s when we remember who we really are…