Kol d’mama de kah. I remember the first time I heard the word spoken. I twirled it around in my mouth, and tried to braid it with my tongue before regurgitating it back to those around me. It was at another staff meeting at Back2Back Ministries, and our co-founder, Beth Guckenberger, was doing a short teaching on the Hebrew word.
Kol d’mama de kah literally means a gentle whisper. It’s also the word used to describe a mother speaking to her newborn baby or the unintelligible murmurings of two lovers together. In these tender moments, only mother and baby understand can each other and the two lovers would be completely in sync. Beth shared these meanings with us and then jumped to the book of 1 Kings where Elijah is called to God’s mountain, Mount Horeb.
To live in a broken world means each of us is head butting moments from which we’d rather escape.
When we settle in with Elijah in 1 Kings 19, he is at the end of his rope. He’s exhausted, he’s sick of running, and sees greater value in being called home than in continuing on. Most important of all, he’s searching for a moment of clarity with the Lord. The Message translation says Elijah shouts, “Enough of this God!” (v. 4.) The ESV translates it this way: “It is enough now; O Lord. . .” Now I’ve never had to run cross-country in order to try to preserve my life, but every fiber of my being wants to put my hand on Elijah’s shoulder and whisper, I see you, brother. To live in a broken world means each of us is head butting moments from which we’d rather escape.
God and His angels aren’t content to allow Elijah to make his exit just yet, though. They rouse him, begging him to eat more than once and then an angel instructs him to head to Mount Horeb, to hear from the Lord.
So, Elijah climbs the mountain to wait for the Lord. He’s met with a great wind, tearing down rocks from the mountainside, but he doesn’t find God there. Then, an earthquake shakes the ground beneath him, but still God isn’t there. Next, a fire. But He is not be found in the flames either.
And after the fire the sound of a low whisper (v. 12) - Elijah was met instead with a low whisper, or a kol d’mama de kah.
How often do we search for God in the major things? The Creator of the oceans and stars will surely show up in ways that are noticeable to many, right? I, like Elijah, have searched for God in the fire, the earthquake, and the strong wind – maybe not literally, but I am searching for cloud formation sentences, or the flickering of power in the midst of trial. I look for clear, obvious, obnoxious evidence of the Lord speaking to me. But when did I start believing that God was obnoxiously loud?
The more I read Scripture, the more I learn about Him, and the more comfortable I become with knowing Him as intimate God. He is intimate with me. I am His child; like a newborn cradled in the arms of its parent, focused solely on the voice of the One who knows me thoroughly. I am loved by Him; every intricacy He has seen, memorized, and still adored. I, like Elijah, wouldn’t have thought to quiet my expectations, be still, and wait for His tenderness, but goodness I am humbled and silenced when He shows up gentle and sweet for me.
“The Lord was expressing to Elijah that He is not always found in the big demonstration: the fire, the earthquake, or the powerful wind. [We] will find him in this intimate exchange where His face is drawn close to [ours] and all others are now blurred . . . this is where His voice is the clearest.”
- Beth Guckenberger, Start with Amen
I, like Elijah, wouldn’t have thought to quiet my expectations, be still, and wait for His tenderness
I want intimacy with God. I want to crave that more than any drawn out kiss from a man or guttural belly laugh with a friend. I want to come to understand His knowing of me and what that means for my narrative. I want fires and earthquakes and raging winds to pass by, and I can smile knowingly and say, “nah, He’s coming in quiet, just for me.” Because He always does come. I forget it often, and lose sight of this story and just how much Elijah and I have in common.
Praise God that we have a Poppa who isn’t fickle like His children. He continues to pursue us with tenderness and an all-encompassing love. I want a thousand tiny moments of me and Jesus, forehead to forehead, so focused on each other that the mental illness, the stress, the comparison, and the wondering where everything is going to end up blurs, and I just see Him. I want that, over and over again, for the rest of my days. I want a life defined by kol d’mama de kah – quiet exchanges where the world takes its rightful second place in comparison to my Maker.
Poppa, cultivate in me an insatiable desire for you. Lord God, slow my pace and help me remember just how much I desire intimate moments for just You and me. Amen.
Steph Duff wants to live in a world where every human, whether small or regular-sized, learns to use their voice and is seen and known. When she's not traveling and story telling with Back2Back Ministries, you'll likely find her drinking excessive cups of coffee, with her nose in a book, or daydreaming about India. Her favorite scripture is Habakkuk 1:5, and she prays for a world in which Jesus is the name on every lip. Learn a little more about her love for semi-colons, what stirs her blood, and the yearnings of her heart over at www.stephaniduff.wordpress.com.