After Many Days… [17SEPT2013]
Readings: Philippians 1:6 ◊ Ephesians 6:13 ◊ 1 Kings 18:1; 19:11-13 ◊ Hebrews 12: 1-3
I am thankful for the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before me. It is often the counsel of their testimonies that encourages and inspires me to press on in my journey of faith. In my most recent days, I am encouraged and comforted by the testimony of Elijah the Tishbite (Elijah means “my God is Yahweh”).
Elijah first shows up in the Book of First Kings (chapter 17). There isn’t much information about his past or his beginnings and nothing much about his relationship with God prior to his giving a word from the LORD to King Ahab (1 Kings 17:1). An interesting chain of events follows Elijah after he delivers a prophetic message to Ahab. The LORD sends Elijah off into the wilderness…it is unknown if this is for protection or hiding, but God provides for him with food brought to him by ravens and then later from the provisions of a widow woman. There is no way for us to know what happened during this time Elijah was in the wilderness, the story does not provide details. What we do know is that Elijah was in the wilderness and with the widow at least three years or more.
As I mentioned, best I can tell, Elijah didn’t have detailed instructions on what to do with himself during these three plus years. All we know is that the LORD told him to “go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook and drink from it while ravens feed you” (1 Kings 17:2-6). Elijah did this until the brook dried up from the drought, then the LORD gave him new instructions to “go live in the village of Zarephath,” where he would be cared for by a widow woman (1 Kings 17:8-16).
It seems there was a lot of waiting going on. There are no significant reports in the narrative that describe anything else that was happening in Elijah’s life other than being faithful to the last word the LORD had given him. It seems, for the most part, Elijah waited. It is also difficult to tell what inspired him during these days of waiting. It makes sense to me that it may have been a very simple and slow routine. It was, after all, ancient Palestine sometime during the 9th Century B.C. I remember too, Elijah’s first residence was a camp beside the Kerith Brook…one might assume he was living alone for however long it took for the drought to dry the brook. Later, he moves to Zarephath and lives with the widow and her son for however long, but it doesn’t appear that Elijah’s habit changes much… he continues to wait… in obscurity and in relative quiet.
Chapter eighteen of First Kings provides us with some more insight; “After many days, the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year” (1 Kings 18:1). Here is what caught my attention: After many days… and In the third year…
After many days, the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year…
By my standards, that’s a long time to wait. In relative obscurity. In relative silence, regarding God’s speaking to him. As I go back and read the account of Elijah again, God didn’t give Elijah details regarding the instructions. God said to Elijah “go” and “I will provide for you.” He didn’t tell Elijah how long it would be that he would be gone for. Also, it doesn’t seem that there was constant chatter between Elijah and God during this time he was set aside. It does seem as though Elijah was faithful to God… first, he was obedient to God’s instructions and second, he lived believing faithfully in the provision and power of God. I don’t think Elijah knew what was going to happen. I think he believed and trusted God. Period.
After Elijah receives a new word of instruction from the LORD, he once again acts obediently. This word and Elijah’s obedience to it, leads to a rather dramatic chain of events (1 Kings 18:1-19:18).
“After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year… “
”Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.
…the LORD was not in the wind
…the LORD was not in the earthquake
…the LORD was not in the fire
And after the fires a sound of
Then there came a voice to him…”
There is more I could say about the narrative itself, but I started to consider the parallels in my own life. A few words from my journal follow:
“After many days…” we get scared or at least I do. I feel like I’m in a holding pattern. Waiting. Sitting idle in the wilderness and I begin to wonder. I wonder where I’ve failed and I wonder what “I need to do” in order for God to conform again to my expectations. Sometimes I go “many days” where I do not hear from God according to my preferred way to hear Him speak—and I doubt. I doubt me and I doubt God. I doubt the systems and I doubt the religious exercises. I doubt my direction. I doubt my instructions. I doubt my location and I doubt the state of my provisions.
I remind myself when I am left in a kind of dark unknowing…feeling helpless and shrouded in my doubts—there is still within me a desire to know that which is totally beyond me! It is here that I recognize God’s deep and abiding love for me. Here, in the face of this great Mystery, is the Bridge that joins the great chasm between me and the invisible God. Here, in this Cloud of Unknowing, Jesus rushes in, reaches out, and extends to me a lifeline, saying; “I am with you always!”
- God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until is complete and perfect. He is faithful to do this.
- When I have done all that I can do and done all that I know to do—then I stand and wait upon the LORD, faithfully trusting His timing and His provision.
- God will always find me in my solitude…there is no where I can hide from Him—He is everywhere.
- God wills me to Himself. I respond to His call with faith.
” A heart that has no other wish but to possess God must attract him to itself, and this secret of love is a very great one, since by this way alone sure faith and firm hope are established in the soul. Then it is that we believe what we cannot see, and expect to possess what we cannot feel.” -Jean-Pierre de Caussade
“God is nearer to me than I am to myself, more intimate to me than my inmost being.” -Augustine
Lord, Open my lips—And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
I will worship my mighty King and Lord. Revive me now, God, my Helper. Blessed be the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. For these Three are One.
O, Breath of God, Heal me in my mind, my body, and my soul. Because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule my heart, through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever.
Lord, hear my prayer—and let my cry come unto you.