I was sitting and praying in the quietness of the church sanctuary on a weekday morning when I heard something. No, it wasn’t a voice from heaven. It was a very faint little tap on the ceiling above my head.
About 10 or 15 seconds later I heard it again. It seemed to come at that same regular interval, almost like a very slow drip from a faucet.
Although I was tempted to ignore this almost inaudible sound, the image of water dripping caused me to conclude that I should go up in the attic to check things out. As I explored the area above where I had been sitting, I heard nothing and saw no sign of anything which might have caused the noise.
But as I made my way back to the stairs, I did discover a problem. The pipe which carries condensation from the use of our air conditioning had come loose. So the pan surrounding the furnace was full of water and beginning to overflow onto the attic floor.
This wasn’t a difficult issue to fix. However if it had gone unnoticed much longer it probably would have caused damage to our ceiling. This leak wasn’t anywhere near where I had heard the noise in the sanctuary, and I saw no sign that the water had traveled anywhere close to that area.
Could the sound of the dripping have radiated that far? Or could it be what I’ve suggested to a few people – maybe the Holy Spirit tapped on the ceiling just to get me to go up in the attic so I would find this hidden problem?
It reminds me of how God’s Spirit often seeks to communicate with us. His voice can frequently be heard more as a whisper than a clap of thunder.
Remember the prophet Elijah’s experience when God met him on a mountain (I Kings 19:11-12). There was strong wind, followed by an earthquake, and finally a fire. The Bible states that God was not in any of those powerful manifestations. But then there was a still, small voice. That’s when Elijah heard from the Lord.
Often God speaks to us in ways we’ll miss if we’re not tuned in to Him. It may be the initial prick of our conscience when we start to do something which we know is not in line with God’s will for us. It might be a soft tap on the shoulder of our heart as we struggle over some decision. It may be a verse of Scripture which comes to mind at just the right moment.
Often we look for neon lights scrolling a divine message across the sky or listen for a thunderous voice that knocks us over with its great force. But God often chooses to communicate to us in softer and gentler ways. We just have to pay attention.
I never would’ve heard that tap on the ceiling of the sanctuary on a Sunday morning with people chatting and music playing. But in the quietness it could be heard.
We often need to quieten our hearts before God and simply listen. We need to get away from all the competing voices and all the distractions. It’s nice when we can physically get alone in a quiet place.
Sometimes that may not be possible. We may just have to tune other things out and focus our hearts on God wherever we happen to be.
Let’s not ignore God’s voice. He may be trying to tell us something important that will help us avoid a big mess in our lives down the road. What is that still, small voice wanting to say to you today?
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.