1 Kings 19:11-12: (Elijah goes out to meet the Lord) Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
I don’t know if you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a cat. It’s not a pleasant experience either for you or for the cat, and there’s always the risk of both cat and human breaking something, whether from being stepped on or falling.
Our elder cat Nacho doesn’t move quickly any more, if she ever did, except when it’s time to eat and she hustles toward her food. And she is remarkably stubborn about claiming whatever space she happens to sprawl on. If she’s lying in the hall, for instance, and I come along, she will not move. I am then forced to step over her since the hall is not wide enough to go around her. In that circumstance, she looks at me as if to say, “Yeah, buddy, this hall is mine and so is any place I happen to occupy. You can go over and go around.”
Knowing Nacho is like this, I have gotten into the habit of taking small steps, almost shuffling my feet, so that if I do encounter her unexpectedly, I’d only nudge her with a toe, as opposed to stepping on her with what my mother used to call, “my big flat feet.” (They are flat, by the way, but I think more “average” than “big.” They’re still big enough to hurt a cat.)
I think I first adapted small steps as a preventative measure when Amy and Alyssa started crawl. They were much like Nacho—they claimed their space, and if I came along, I had to watch out for them since I was the responsible party, as the insurance companies like to say. So I shuffled along the floor when they were at that age. When we adopted Nacho, I easily fell into taking small steps, a legacy from our daughters’ activities at that age.
I think the spiritual application is this: in our faith, we need to take small steps after our initial leap of faith as we grow into Christlikeness. There will occasionally still be giant steps with our spirituality, but most of the progress is done in small everyday bits, such as being kind to someone or sensitive to a person’s emotional state. Jesus spoke of the tiny mustard seed growing into a large bush. God is not necessarily in the whirlwind, but perhaps more so in the silence of small acts and thoughts, which can have huge effects on the world and on its people. Praise God for the small deeds and words that grow, like the mustard tree, into the Kingdom. Amen.