Sunday, July 8, 2012

Still, Small Voices

He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." 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 an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a 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 that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:11-13)

While the dwarves have been exploring Smaug's treasure hoard, things have been much different and much worse for the people of Lake-town. Not able to catch the dwarves hiding in the tunnel, the dragon turns his wrath on the men living on the lake because he knows they had to have a part in helping the invaders of his lair. The buildings are on fire and people are running for their lives, frantic to escape the fiery beast that is bringing terror and destruction upon them. In the midst of the chaos, one man continues to shoot arrows at Smaug, seemingly in vain, even after all the other defenders have given up and fled for their lives. His name is Bard, and just before he lets loose his last arrow, a small bird lands on his shoulder and tells him everything that he has overheard the dwarves and Bilbo discussing, including where to find the one tiny place on Smaug's chest where he is missing a scale. On the dragon's next pass over the town, Bard waits, spots the vulnerable place, aims carefully, and shoots, successfully vanquishing the dragon once and for all.

Bard didn't learn of Smaug's weak spot from a scholarly book on the subject of dragon-killing, and there was no military commander barking out the order to shoot his arrows. Help came from the wise words of an unlikely messenger – a little bird perched on his shoulder. Furthermore, he didn't shoo away the creature or dismiss its words because of its seeming insignificance but took its words to heart and was successful as a result. May we, too, remember to listen for the still, small voice, and pay attention to the unlikely messengers that God sends our way to help us defeat our monsters or just find our way along the journey.

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