In 1 Kings 19 we find Elijah on the run. He has witnessed an incredible number of miracles in previous chapters, but right now those things are a distant memory. Queen Jezebel sent a messenger to let Elijah know that she had his number and he would be killed within the next day. Even with all the times he has witnessed God’s provision, this lady got to him. He fled the area with a servant, then left the guy and traveled another entire day by himself. Elijah didn’t just have a pity party but a full on celebration. He found a cave to hide out in and heard the voice of God asking what he was doing in no man’s land. He responded with a string of whining phrases like, “I’ve done all this stuff for you Lord, where are You? Everyone has turned against You and I am the only one left. Now they are trying to kill me too!”
There are a couple of things that struck me here:
1. How arrogant of Elijah to think that if he were wiped out that would be the end of the mission to tell people about God. But when we throw our personalized tantrums is that not the same kind of thing we say? Newsflash! We are part of the body of Christ, but again have to be reminded it is not all about us. If we don’t carry out what God has asked of us, He is quite capable of using someone else. That stings and is raw to hear, but we need it. There is a lot to be said for humility!
2. If God asks you, “what are you doing” that is probably a huge red flag we are not where we are supposed to be. I’m not sure how much expansion I can provide there, I think that is pretty self explanatory.
Before Elijah found the cave he fell asleep under a tree. An angel woke him up two times with instructions for him to get up and eat. The second time the angel woke him up he added, “…for the journey is too great for you.”
Food for thought:
1. Elijah had this really dramatic Scarlett O’Hara moment. (Okay, so I am ad-libbing a little here, stay with me.) He throws his arm to his forehead and says, “It’s over God, just take me now. I’m no better than my ancestors who tried to tell people about you and failed.” Then assuming that God is going to listen to his instructions, Elijah takes a nap. Welcome exaggeration! I’m sure we are very familiar with this process. We don’t get the promotion we thought we deserved and it is the end of the world. We don’t even consider the possibility that God has something way better in store for us in 6 months. Maybe we would have been miserable in that new position?
2. Why did this angel say that this journey was too much for Elijah? Um, hello, he was nowhere near where he was supposed to be. He jumped at Jezebel’s bark and ran off with a servant to hide. Then he dumped this guy so he could truly be a legitimate victim and traveled for another whole day to separate himself from any indication of civilization. We are very skilled at setting our pity parties up. Step one, isolation. Step two, relive every bad thing that has ever happened to us and play the blame game. Step three, blow up a few balloons, get some party hats and get comfortable. We want to enjoy being in misery.
There is a great ending to this story. God allowed Elijah to witness how nature reacts to His presence. He saw wind break mountains apart and experienced an earthquake followed by fire. But God knew exactly what Elijah needed, a still, small voice that could go right to the core of his being and heal it.
It’s easy for us to say what Elijah should have done and point out his faults. I don’t think that is the point of stories like these. We are all going to behave like this at some point in our lives. What a great illustration of hope and comfort. God could have zapped Elijah because He got tired of his whining. He could have let him die there under that tree, but He didn’t. He showed Elijah just a glimpse of His power to say, “Let me handle this, I’ve got it.” Then He soothed Elijah with peace and comfort from within to restore him. God knew exactly what Elijah needed to see, hear and feel. Elijah is no different from you or me. He was just a guy trying to share God with the people God put in his path. If God knew what He needed why would it be any different for us?