The striker comes tearing into the box straight at you with the ball at his feet, you stick out a leg, hoping to make contact with the ball. Before you know it the striker is on the ground having jumped acrobatically at your foot. The referee blows his whistle and you groan inwardly as he marches toward you, reaching for his back pocket. You prepare yourself for that walk down the tunnel and for the shame of having let your teammates down. But as the referee comes closer you realise that he's not looking at you, he's looking at the striker and lifts a yellow card in his direction. The striker gets booked for diving.
There's probably few sweeter moments in football than that for a defender. You think you are going to be penalized but you actually get a reward.
I realise that I should have an anecdote here to help people who don't like football but I can't think of one so feel free insert one of your own.
The point is that instead of being punished you get a prize. That's a bit like the story of Elijah in the cave. I don't know if you know it.
Basically Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel because she said she would kill him. Despite God's protection in the past, Elijah is still terrified. He runs away and hides himself in a cave in the desert. He is afraid of the Queen and probably feeling shame and fear for disappointing his God.
When hidden there, God speaks to him. God tells him to go to the front of the cave, Elijah has been running away, the LORD is going to come to him. Elijah does as commanded but, although the Bible doesn't tell us, I am sure his knees were knocking as he stood there waiting to encounter God. Was he going to be judged? Was he going to be punished?
A strong wind comes sweeping through the cave and mountains. It breaks rocks in the mountains, a terrifying experience for Elijah who was in the middle it all. But God was not in the wind.
Then an earthquake shook the cave doubtless causing rock to crumble and break around Elijah's head. But God was not in the earthquake.
Then a fire breaks out and burns around Elijah but he is untouched. God was not in the fire either.
Elijah would have been reminded of when Moses met God on Mount Sinai. God sent wind, earthquakes and fire to show His wrath there. Here He sent all of those things. But He was not in them. God was not coming to Elijah to judge.
Then there was silence. Deafening silence I'm sure after all that occurred. Then Elijah hears a still small voice speaking to Him. God was hear to speak and minister to him.
Have you ever felt like Elijah? Guilty, afraid, confused and just wanting to get away from the world he hid himself, hoping to escape God and the world. Ever felt that way? Elijah came to see that you can't outrun and you can't hide from God's seeing eye. He sees and knows where we are and will come and find us. However, instead of drawing near to shame and judge, Elijah found that God came to speak to him and restore. He will do the same for you, stop running and draw near to Him, He will draw near to you with whispering words of grace.