Summer is not only a time for numerous sporting tournaments, it is also a time for many other outdoor events. County and village agricultural shows are a plenty; picnics, teas and barbecues seem to happen everywhere; pop and folk festivals take place up and down the land in farmers fields and stately grounds; funfairs come to town, as will happen in Gloucester this weekend.
One of the more unique events takes place in our area this weekend – I’m thinking of the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. With RIAT taking place in a rural location, we in the city do not see the event taking shape in the way that we see the fair being built on the park. That said, we know it is happening simply because of the noise of the aircraft in the skies. Here in Gloucester all I hear and see is the occasional light aircraft taking off from Gloucester airport. Therefore, when I hear the roar of jet engines overhead I am aware that something different is going on the area! I don’t see the aircraft and yet I hear them from miles away so know they are there.
This idea of not seeing something but knowing it is there is a truth that we apply daily to our faith. We do not see God, and yet we are very much aware He is working out His purposes in our world and in our lives. We cannot even say that we know God is around because He makes a lot of noise. When God passed by Elijah on Mount Horeb the Bible tells us,
“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. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ”
The unseen God was in the gentle whisper not the roar of nature. Discovering the unseen God may seem like an enormous task, but as Brother Lawrence says in his famous work, The Practice of the Presence of God it can be done:
“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
He might not make the noise of an aircraft, but God is nearer than we think!