Summary: Our success and fulfillment is in our service and Jesus, the bread of heaven, gives us the food that we need for the journey.
FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY
Text: First Kings 17:19
"The familiar orange box and the slogan "The Breakfast of Champions" have become more than just advertising symbols. They have become a metaphor for sports greatness and success. Many athletes, at the pinnacle of their success, have shared their childhood dreams about someday joining the legends who have had their picture on a Wheaties box. And, indeed, Wheaties is a delicious, healthy product that has helped fuel and inspire many a champion. But the legend and lore of this famous orange box - and the many champions it has featured over the years - is a story in itself.
Like many great inventions, Wheaties was discovered by accident. In 1921, a health clinician in Minneapolis was mixing a batch of bran gruel for his patients when he spilled some of the mix on a hot stove. The gruel crackled and sizzled into a crisp flake. Tasting the very first Wheaties prototype, he decided this delicious accident had promise. He took the crisped gruel to the people at the Washburn Crosby Company. The head miller, George Cormack, took on the task of trying to strengthen the flakes to keep them from turning to dust inside a cereal box. Cormack tested 36 varieties of wheat before he developed the perfect flake. …One of the most popular slogans in advertising history was penned … in 1933. General Mills’ contract for sponsorship of the broadcasts of Minneapolis Millers games on WCCO radio included a large advertising signboard at the ball park. Knox Reeves, an advertising executive for Wheaties’ Minneapolis-based agency, was asked what should be printed on the sign. He took out a pad and pencil, sketched a Wheaties box, thought for a moment, and then printed "Wheaties - The Breakfast of Champions." (Quoted from the following Internet source: http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/story048.htm). The rest of the story is history. Later, athletes whose pictures were on the cereal boxes became associated with both athletic success and health.
If Wheaties had existed back in the days of Elijah, then Elijah was surely in need of its benefits. Elijah was asking God to let him quit. He was losing hope. He felt both defeated and sorry for himself. Elijah felt alone and depressed. He was a champion. In fact, Elijah was God’s champion for God’s purposes. It was in Elijah’s period of despondence that God provided Elijah with food for the journey ahead. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat for the journey is too great for thee" (First Kings 19:7 KJV).
OPPOSITION TO THE TASK
Elijah who had been God’s fearless prophet was now weary. Elijah’s strength was spent. He felt like he was at the end of his rope. The opposition from without was beginning to take it’s toll on the inner person of who Elijah was. Elijah who had been victorious over and against the prophets of Baal was now struggling to keep his perspective. Jezebel had threatened Elijah’s life. Elijah then went into hiding. Elijah was becoming traumatized by his loneliness. He was beginning to feel sorry for himself and depressed.
"A victim of mental depression, once went to consult a skilled physician regarding his condition. The doctor prescribed some lively amusement, and told him of a celebrated clown, who was entertaining great companies in a certain place of amusement in the town. With an expression of despair on his haggard face, the visitor exclaimed, "I am that clown." The man who was moving thousands to laughter each night, was a victim of depression himself." (John Ritchie. 500 Gospel Sermon Illustrations. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1987, p. 131). Elijah must have felt a lot like this clown.
It has been said that "fear breeds lonelieness". (Robert H. Spain. How To Stay Alive As Long As You Live. Nashville: Dimensions for living, 1992, p. 88). In Elijah’s case loneliness was breeding fear and hopelessness. Consider First Kings 19:1-5: "And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, it is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat" (KJV). Elijah had fled the scene because he was afraid for his life. He had a task to fulfill but Elijah was beginning to feel that the completion of the task was beyond his grasp. His fear was breeding loneliness and his loneliness was magnifying his fear.