Twice God asks Elijah, what are you doing HERE? Both times Elijah answers, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
He is saying, "I am frustrated, I am working so hard for the salvation of the people and they don't care and now I am afraid that my life will be taken and I don't want that to happen."
That is a strong paraphrase. But I believe that is the essence of it.
Elijah ran away out of fear. But God is helping him to use the time in the cave. He is being strengthened both physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So He (God) said, "Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks 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. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. (1 Kings 19:11, 12 NASB)
Many people think that this demonstration is to tell us humans that God is mighty and big, but it is the still, small voice that we need to hear. But actually re read the scripture. God was not in the wind, God was not in the earthquake, and God was not in the fire, but neither does it say that He was in the gentle blowing.
This biblical example is not so much about how God speaks to us, as it is about why God DID NOT speak to Elijah, and what he told him to DO instead.
It is, a call to simply go back to work, doing what God has called us to do, relying on his promises; trusting that the work is His and not ours to define and achieve.
I believe that in His silence God was telling Elijah, "Get yourself out of the way. Life goes on, big things and small things will happen. I want you to be a part of those things but you need to get yourself together. You have been refreshed and ministered to but now it is your attitude that is in the way. Put that aside and let's get busy."
Being in the cave is our choice. It is down time. It is a chance to grow. It is a place to reflect on being grateful for the opportunity to be used by God for His purpose.
Use the time to be strengthened, renewed and refreshed and then get out of the cave.
After the wind, after the earthquake, after the fire, and after the gentle blowing; The Lord said to him, "Go,"
And Elijah went.
Sometimes it is in the cave where God will find us and rebuild us.