The presence of God is a whisper. He seldom speaks to us in a loud voice, and even when he does we are not likely to hear him on account of being spiritually blind and deaf. He speaks to us in the quiet desert of our lives. Only in that desert, in the suffering of the everyday, can God speak to us and reveal himself to us. Why? Because the experience of the world, of the senses, of the flesh (which is an excessive attachment to the life of the body), tends to drown out the voice of God. His voice is a whisper not because he is trying to hide from us, but because searching for him is the only way we will ever find him. He hides from us in order to reveal himself to us. When he hides, life is even more difficult than usual, but in the end if we cooperate, it is far more fruitful than a superficial feeling of God’s “presence” or his “love.”
When we search for him it is not done according to the normal way, turning over couch pillows and looking under beds. Searching for God means to retreat within our inner hearts by divesting ourselves of all of those things that obscure his real presence, those things that block our spiritual vision and deafen our spiritual ears.
In the desert of God’s seeming absence we must calm ourselves, stop fighting his will, listen from the depths of our being, where he has united his wounds to our wounds, and where, therefore, his presence floods forth as blood and water into the soul of man, from his wounds and into ours.
“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, For I put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink,The people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise (Isaiah 43:18-21).
Do we allow God to form us in the desert of his presence? Or are we too afraid of his love, a love that requires of us things that, in our weakness, we consider to be monstrous. We all know this fear whether we give voice to it or not, whether we admit it or not, it torments us in the back of our mind even when we pretend that God is something we know deep down he is not. But God knows of our weaknesses and he will not leave us to ourselves no matter how desperately we may try to leave him with himself by clinging to a false “presence,” a false “love.”
Do not be afraid! We will always be afraid, but we must allow God to take our fear from us and replace it with his love, a love that stretches us, challenges us, terribly, immensely, totally, but that is at the same time gentle, tender, bringing happiness, peace, and contentment, if we accept the grace to see it and to hear it, a tiny Divine whisper in the desert of our human heart (1 Kings 19:12).