Michael Barrick, Managing Director of Education & Communication

Wall Watchers

Summary: Do we allow God to speak to us in a ?gentle whisper?? The author shares a beautiful portrait of what time alone in nature with God does for His child.

Going to the mountain

Elijah went to the mountain to hear God’s ?gentle whisper? (1K 19:12). It is a model I have followed all of my years. For instance, if I believe God directs my life, even in the task of designing lesson plans for the English classes I teach—and I do believe it—then it is imperative that I hear His voice. I do that best in silence.

As did the poet Thoreau, I have discovered it is in His Creation we call ?nature? that the noise of everyday life is quieted. It is in the silence of trees and rocks, fern and brook, flora and fauna, ridge tops and valleys, that I hear God’s voice.

Attune to His voice

Just like all His children, I have ignored or rejected His counsel. Actually, there were times when I could not even hear it! But that is not God’s fault. He was speaking. I was just not concerned enough to set aside the activities in my life that are really nothing more than distractions. Indeed, many are completely irrelevant to His hopes for me.

We are all ?creations? of the same God, but tragically there are times we worship false gods. As His created beings, it should not surprise us that it is in the midst of His creation we can best hear His gentle whisper.

Relying upon the Rock

I am most content when I conduct my life according to the Counselor’s guidance I hear as I sit on my favorite praying spot—a rock along Cold Creek, near the Pisgah Forest in western North Carolina. It is through this conscious effort to strengthen my relationship with my Master, Jesus Christ, that I learn to live as He lived—in prayer and service to others. It is here on the rock, where I learn to hear, understand, and ultimately rely upon the Rock of salvation.

A simpler time

This favorite rock of mine does not sit in complete isolation. Next to it is the cabin that my uncle, my son, and some friends and I built with our own hands. At the other end of the fifty-seven-acre refuge are nearby neighbors whom we can count on, even on a cold February morning. The cabin and its environs beckon to a simpler time, a time before human inventions—both technical and institutional—deceived man into believing that there is no truth.

We have harnessed nuclear energy and can communicate instantly to any part of the world. Grocery stores in many places allude to unending plenty. With everything we need or want for physical comfort literally at our fingertips, we have deceived ourselves into thinking that it is only our own ingenuity and industry that has provided us with these conveniences, so we forget about God.

But a trip into God’s unspoiled creation testifies to the truth of the Gospel. Everything I see is His creation and provision. God has taught me valuable lessons through the days we have spent building and the nights we’ve spent under the stars—lessons that I have not, nor could have discovered any other way. He has taught me about His provisions, about the importance of developing and maintaining relationships, and about what is truly important in this brief life we enjoy as stewards temporarily inhabiting this planet.

The breeze moving through the trees, the occasional songbird, the crows and woodpeckers, the creek rolling over the stones, these are the only conversation. A symphony of the Creator’s sounds sings directly to my soul. As unorthodox as it may sound, this is often my ?church.? As I marvel at the beauty, I worship. I am thankful for creation. As I consider the Creator, I am humbled.

Growing closer

It is Good Friday and we are on our knees planting potatoes. More importantly, we are growing closer to family, neighbors, and God. It is the fall harvest of the same potatoes, a reminder that it is not the local supermarket that is the source of our food. It is a gift of God.

Though this close connection to His creation clears my mind, it does not empty it. The distractions of everyday life do not erase my memory; they provide clarity—a kind of depth perception on life’s challenges. It is as if I see myself from a heavenly perspective and recognize my humble position, and more importantly, the insignificance of any problems I am experiencing, in contrast to God’s magnificence.

The key relationship

The appeal of the mountaintop is the seclusion it offers. When I am here, it is because I have sensed the need to commune, not with people, but with the Creator and His handiwork. Scripture is clear. Jesus expects us to be responsible stewards of everything He has given us—gifts, talents, resources, time:

?For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad? (2 Cor 5:10).

We, because we are ?commissioned? to make Christ known to the world, must first know Him (Mt 28: 18-20).

As I’ve grown older, I have concluded that the most important responsibility Christians have is to develop and maintain relationships that strengthen us and the Kingdom. The most important of these relationships is the one we have with our Savior.

No matter how hard I try, I can only focus on one conversation at a time. If I am not alone, I cannot listen to what God is saying to me through His Spirit. Yes, maybe I can hear Him when I am among others, but to really listen, absorb, and apply God’s guidance in my life, I must listen for that gentle whisper. It is in His creation that I hear it best.

© Wall Watchers, 2004