Summary: Even when we are most discouraged God calls us to get back to work, doing what He has called us to do.
Waiting For The Whisper
July 15, 2012 1 Kings 19:4-15
What are you doing here? That is a great question. One we could ask each other as we gather as a church. What are you doing here? Why did you come? It is a great question we could ask corporately as this church – what are we doing here, in our fellowship, in our community, what is our mission and purpose and direction? It is a question I’m going to put to each of these 3 people sitting up here, who have been asked to step into leadership on our Elder’s board and who have accepted the nomination – what are you doing here?
That is the question God asks Elijah, in 1 Kings 19:13. Some background to the famous story: Elijah has been running in fear of his life. Wicked King Ahab, and his even more wicked wife Jezebel, have been out to kill him. Elijah confronted him, confronted 450 prophets in a test of power on Mount Carmel, then labored deep in prayer for rain, then ran faster than a chariot, then had to flee for his life again into the wilderness where he lays down and prayed that he might die. I have had enough, Lord, he said. Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died. (1 Kings 19:4).
I have had enough, Lord. I’ve prayed that, have you? I haven’t asked God to take my life, but I’ve certainly felt I have had enough! Especially this last year. Did you know that we are exactly one week away from the 1 year anniversary of the flood that destroyed our basement and that sparked the whole year worth of additional problems and complications? Happy anniversary!
We’ve provided regular updates. I’ve appreciated Ken’s work on providing weekly updates in the building. And we are getting close to finishing. But it has cost us a lot as a church, and has taken a huge amount of effort and focus together. And as I read the story of Elijah again, I understood it in a deeper way. I have had enough, Lord! Elijah had been obedient, he had done and said what God commanded him, and here he is in the middle of the wilderness ready to quit.
4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. I have had enough, Lord, he said. Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, Get up and eat! 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.
8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
But the Lord said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah?
It was a miracle that got him that far – the bread and water God provided gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights; and there is the question: what are you doing here?
10 Elijah replied, I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.
It is a bit of a self-centered response, a bit of a poor me response, but that is why I sketched the background: it has been really, really hard for Elijah. Literally life and death. And God comes and speaks:
11 Go out and stand before me on the mountain, the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by,
let’s pause: what are we expecting? Feel the scene – the climax is coming, the fleeing, the miracles to get him here, the conversation begins, Elijah is standing on the mountain and God is about to show up. Will he see God like Moses did? Will an angel come and wipe his brow and let him rest peacefully? Will he see a vision of heaven?
and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.