Friday, September 27, 2013
The prophet that makes me laugh and learn
I would love to have met Elijah in person. He was a tough go-getter, fearless to face down a bloodthirsty queen and her pack of Baal worshipping priests. That story of fire from heaven is one of my favorites. But Elijah had his weaknesses, just like the rest of us.
After the fiery standoff with the Baal worshippers, he was riding on an emotional high. He had been a part of two amazing miracles (fire from heaven and rain after a famine), a slaughter of the prophets of Baal, and a victory for God under his belt, all in just one day. But Jezebel the queen acted just as arrogant and hell-bent on killing Elijah. So he ran miles away and hid in a cave and wanted to die. What??
After all that amazing power manifested by God through Elijah’s faith, how could one woman turn him into such a weakling? Emotionalism – that’ll do it every time. Ride high on your emotions, and you can count on being tossed into the dirt face-down soon enough. Elijah had forgotten that his trust was in God, not in his ability to convince Jezebel to back down or repent.
I love what came after that. The Bible says that God told him to come out to the edge of the cave and stand in the Lord’s presence:
“At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:11-13.
We all want to see the spectacular, the amazing, the stupendous earthshaking experience and say, “Wow, look at what God is showing me!” But God wasn’t interested in talking to Elijah through any of that. It was that soft whisper; that still small voice that asked, “Hey Elijah, what are you doing here?” It makes me laugh every time I read it!
Elijah went on to give God a slightly exaggerated sob story about how he was the only one left who loved him, and as always, God was so gracious and wise. He didn’t pity him, and He didn’t rebuke him, just gave him a mission to go and anoint a new king and prophet and to know that there are thousands of others who still do love Him. “Now go!” He said.
So the solution to Elijah’s depression and self-pity was:
Stop being emotional
Stop worrying about convincing people to listen to you
Calm your self-centered feelings so you can hear His voice
Get up and DO what you know He wants
The moral of the story? God speaks to us all the time. ALL the time. Yet we have the dullest, deafest ears to hear him because we are so attracted to special effects. Whatever exciting shiny thing appears before our eyes, we want to stare at it. Whatever gripping emotion settles into our hearts, we want to dwell on it – even if it’s destructive. And of course the devil is more than happy to dress up all his temptations like a Hollywood set, with lots and of fancy emotions and imagery. Meanwhile God says, “Go, do what you know I want, and that’s when you’ll see my power.”