1 Kings 18:20-40
The day was a day of testing… in more ways than one. Thoughts and emotions tumbled in my mind as I prepared to surrender my daughter for yet another round of testing. “What would they find?” What if it’s serious?” “What will we do?” “Will it be painful for her?” My blood pressure began to rise, keeping pace with the fear that gripped my soul. “Father, please. Please not this. Not her. Not now.”
Half-conscious prayers poured from my heart even as I reached for my phone. “I can’t do this alone. I need my friend to walk with me through this.” Glancing at my contacts, I quickly found the number I sought. Now everything would be well! This was my friend! This was the one to whom I turned in all the stormy moments of my life! This was the one who could calm the tempest in my soul. I neither wanted nor needed any other. I waited for the familiar voice to reassure me.
“Surely any minute now…” Silence. “C’mon. Answer. Please?”
“But there was no voice and no one answered.” (1 Kings 18:29)
Waiting through the interval—that interminable, undefined region of half-madness and semi-doubtful hope—I listened to the appalling silence of my soul’s idol. I listened and I grieved. My idol failed me.
But then, above the stillborn silence of my newly fallen god, the Father called, “Come near me” (1 Kings 18:30). And, stooping to rebuild the altar of my heart (1 Kings 18:30), He taught me to see the blessedness of broken down idols. Too long had I clung to the faded hope of my soul’s idol—to the sense of comfort and strength it lent me. And so long as I did, I would not turn to the only true Source of strength; the God of all consolation and the Fountain of ever-lasting joy. Rather, like children at an imaginary tea party I would continue serving—and being served—a pretty dream that never existed.
Yes, God often does send comfort clothed in human flesh. He often speaks with the tongues and languages of men. See Paul, imprisoned and alone, asking for the comfort of a friend (2 Timothy 4:9). See Jesus, on the eve of His execution, and with a soul “very sorrowful, even to death,” asking that His friends, “remain here, and watch with [Him]” (Matthew 26:38, ESV). But these are never meant to take His place in our hearts. It is never recorded that Timothy met Paul and Jesus’ friends fell asleep (Matthew 26:40). We must recognize the Source of comfort, even as we appreciate the instrument that brings it (2 Corinthians 7:6).
Human idols will fail. But even here we see the mercy of God; for it is often through the dusty wreckage of failed dreams and fallen hopes that we get our first real, true glimpse of His love.
I learned that day that the silence of idols is a curious thing. In it is the heard the crashing of a thousand trusted towers, fortresses we once thought strong. And I learned it is in the silence of the idols that we hear the Voice of God.