In today’s first reading, God tells the prophet Elijah that he is going to pay him a visit. “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.’” Next comes a wind so strong that it was “rending the mountains,” then an earthquake, then a fire. But Elijah says none of these represented the presence of God. The Lord was not in the wind, earthquake or fire, we’re told. Elijah recognizes the presence of God not in the violent disasters, but in a tiny whisper. “After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.”I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at paying attention to tiny whispering sounds in my life. If that’s how God is trying to be present to me, I’m in big trouble. God is not the storm. God is bigger and far more powerful than the storm.The major events of the day get our attention — disaster, political events, financial worries, personal crises. These are the things that cause us to search our souls and look for some kind of divine guidance. Maybe it’s because that’s when we feel most vulnerable and out of control. But what if these aren’t “acts of God” after all, or at least not in the way we are accustomed to thinking? What if the place to look for God is in the tiny whispers in our lives?In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus’ followers are at sea in a raging storm, fearing for their lives, when Jesus arrives and calls Peter to join him walking on the water. Peter quickly sinks, and Jesus rescues him and calms the storm. The message is clear, particularly when paired with the first reading. God is not the storm. God is bigger and far more powerful than the storm. Perhaps more importantly, staying tuned in to God will help us respond when God is trying to get our attention. We need to listen carefully to the many voices in our lives — the loud and the quiet — in order to hear and follow the voice of God. And we need to examine the events that shake up our lives and our world, but remember that God is bigger than the crises that seem to be controlling us.Of course, the question we usually ask when facing a crisis or disaster is “Why”? Today’s readings don’t try to answer that question, but instead point us to different ways of seeing and experiencing God. God can come to us in whispers. God can rescue us from the storms we experience. Our challenge is to be attuned to God’s presence and voice so that we can fully experience and enjoy God’s power and love.Bill Peatman writes from Napa. He may be reached at [email protected]