Scripture in Text
Life is a Drama
Before we read the scripture, to give a little background about the scripture, Elijah is one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament and just fought against 450 prophets on Mount Carmel, becoming the greatest victory. But somehow what you are going to hear today is very strange, he was really depressed and he was really down. The word of the Lord is taken from First Kings Chapter 19 verse 11 to 13 he said “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by there. 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 and earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake and after the earthquake or fire, but the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”. After the fire, “a sound of sheer silence”, that is a very strange kind of phrase. You know, every Sunday we gather here together, not just to reflect about being religious. I don’t come here to just talk about religion every Sunday, I come up here thinking about life. Once a week, we gather together, we think about life, what do we believe about life? what do you believe about myself? what do we believe about God? what is the core thing that defines my existence? That’s something that I like to reflect every Sunday, we want to reflect on life. Life is not always good, I wish it was always good, but life is not always good. Not always bad either, but it’s not always good. It’s too bad that life is not always good, especially life with God. Even that is not always good. Maybe that’s the nature of life, that is a deal of life. Life is not always good whether you believe it or not, whether you believe in God or not, whether you’re a good person or not sometimes a tragedy happens. Those innocent children were killed in Nice, didn’t do anything bad. There was probably a lot of good people there, but all these things happen. Why did these things happen to me? There is no answer, life is not always good. Whether you’re a good person or not, whether you’re a believer or not, that’s why life is a drama. Life is good and bad. Together they make up a drama. Life is a rhythm, there are ups and downs in life. Life cannot always be up nor always down. There are always ups and downs and there’s a very famous picture that you all know “If there are no ups and downs in your life. It means you’re dead”, flat line. That is being dead. So life together, ups and downs and good and bad make a rhythm. Life is like a drama, drama in the sense that life isn’t mechanical, predictable and controllable. Tomorrow? you don’t know, those people who went to Nice probably they went out to celebrate the great lights. It would have been a fun exciting night but it turned into a nightmare. Life is not predictable.
Life is not predictable
I went down to Boston this year to see my daughter who gave birth to a son, that itself was a drama to me. As I shared before, this really happened, she almost did not make it to the world when he was born. I was at a church and then the doctor called me and then I rushed to the hospital and the doctor told me she has a 10 percent chance to live, you want to do the surgery? c-section right now? you have a 10 percent chance. I said, “Of course”, 10 percent even if it was one percent, I’ll take that. I still remember my prayers, I mean every day, every moment I was at the chapel at a women’s college hospital praying for the survival of my child because she was waiting for the blood and there was no blood in the world. The doctor told me that todays probably the last day, “If blood doesn’t arrive today, your child will die”, and so I prayed and prayed. I remember my prayer from that time, I said to God, “Lord, I don’t pray for the perfectly healthy baby, probably that will be my greed, but this humble prayer, I pray that you please help me so that the child at least doesn’t get brain damage and that will be fine for me, I can take it”. At then at the very end of the hospital, a life there, I came out with a perfectly healthy baby. I couldn’t even imagine it. So when I went to hospital and she gave very easy birth, I said “Are you hurting?”, she replied saying she was fine and she gave birth and all was well. I then held my grandson and said to myself again, “Life is drama”. Life is trauma, it’s not always good, it’s not always bad. There’s no formula. Life is not always good, but we should never give up. That’s what I believe about life. That’s what I believe about myself. Life’s not always good, but we should never give up, do you believe that? I hope that you believe that. I feel like giving up sometimes, many times. I feel like many times especially when we face challenges, and they are too difficult to overcome we want to give up.
Todays story, Prophet Elijah was not just a prophet, he was the prophet, a prophet. He was like Michael Jordan in basketball, or he was like tiger woods in golf. He was the prophet. He defeated 450 false prophets in Mount Carmel. He won the biggest victory. You know when Jesus went up to the mountain and then experienced a transfiguration to representative and old testament figures come out of there? Who are they? One is Moses and the other was Elijah, very powerful figures, but one woman threatened him because she didn’t like what Elijah did on Mount Carmel, she threatened to kill Elijah. I mean at this time. He was really scared. He probably received all kinds of threats throughout his life, but he was fine. He was able to handle all of those, but this time he was really, really scared. He was running away. He was vulnerable. Human beings are like that. Sometimes we can take any challenge in life no problem, and when difficulties come, we can fight and fight and fight, but one woman, just a little problem comes and attacks you. You get so scared, you lose all your confidence. This time you say to yourself, I don’t think I can make it this time. All this time I have made it, but not this time. Maybe that’s what human beings are like. He came under a solitary broom tree and this was what he said “It’s enough now, oh Lord is enough is enough, take away my life for I am no better than my ancestors”. Then he laid down under the broom tree and fell asleep. It’s like saying I give up, even the greatest profit experience, this kind of vulnerability, this kind of brokenness. All the figures in the Bible, they are not invincible people. We’re special people, they are like you and me. Same as us and he feels so vulnerable, but you said, I give up. I’m not going to do anything anymore. I’m going to just lie down here. I sleep. If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die. I don’t care anymore. No one is invincible. Not a single one, they just pretend to be invincible, the are all vulnerable in a certain way. That’s what life is like. That’s what we human beings are like, but Elijah was totally beaten down. When you are totally beaten down, that itself is not necessarily bad. Why? because at that moment, Elijah, he heard the voice. Sometimes that’s when God speaks to you, that’s when we hear God. God always speaks to us, but only when we are totally beaten down. That’s when we hear God’s voice more clearly than ever before. Not a loud voice, but small voice. Rather the sound of silence. Elijah heard the sound of sheer silence. The scripture says, after the fire a sound of sheer silence, he heard Greek wind that split the mountain. There was an earthquake and there was a fire, but Elijah could not hear God in those loud voices, in loud noises. He could not hear God’s voice, but when there was complete silence after that, he heard the sound of silence. When there was complete silence, he heard it, and this is what the scripture says. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle because he heard something. That’s life. Sometimes we hear when everything is so quiet, when it is noisy, we can not hear, but when there’s complete silence, sometimes we hear better. How do you hear the sound of silence? That’s like oxymoron. Silence is no sound and sound of silence is sound of no sound, it doesn’t make sense, but somehow we all know we can hear silence. We can hear the voice. When everything is silent, you know my friend. I realize the more important thing to hear, is not the noise or the sound that is audible. The more important sound is the silence. Sound of silence. I realized that I hear what I need to hear in silence. It the is deep inner voice. When everything is silent, it speaks from the heart it speaks from the depth of your soul. God often speaks to our heart. When it is noisy. We cannot hear what’s in there, but when everything is silent, we can hear the deep inner voice. Elijah was able to hear the voice deep within him and what did the voice say? Simple, “Elijah, what are you doing? what are you doing lying there?”. Sometimes when we hear the voice, the voice tells us, what are you doing? What are you doing with your life? He was completely tired and exhausted from running away from his life. He was just sitting under the tree. He’s sitting on his life. He did not do anything with his life, it’s not that he was making his life looking at the vision, he was just sitting on his life doing nothing. God asked “Elijah, what are you doing? Elijah?”, and said three things. First of all, you’re not alone. There are other prophets too who do the great things, who do great things and not so great things. Thirdly, God said “I am with you, I will give you strength and let you know what you need to do”. Very clearly he spoke to Elijah. Elijah heard what he needed to hear, sound of silence. It’s not audible and you can not hear it when you’re totally confident, arrogant and thinking that you’re capable. When you are full of yourself, you cannot hear the sound of silence, but when you’re broken and you become humble, you can hear the sound of silence. We have to learn to hear the sound of silence. Jesus always said “Let those who have ears to hear, let them hear”. I hope that all of us have the ears to hear, and become people who are able to hear and listen to the sound of silence. When the prodigal son, when he was at home, he was not able to hear anything, but when he went far away from home, he lost everything. He was completely broken down. He had to even steal pigs food and this is when he heard the sound of silence.
Sound of Silence
When we are completely down, it’s not always bad. When you guys are down, hear the sound of silence, that’s what I believe about life. God works in that way. To me, that was my life, my life was like that when I was completely down and God spoke to me. God spoke to me what I never heard before, and God will still speak to you in a very small voice sometimes in silence. I hoped that you all are able to hear that voice. That voice is like the star in the dark.