And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah is a prophet of the Most High God. Likely he has spent most of his life listening to the voice of God… waiting to be deployed.
Then suddenly he is.
And for years Elijah is God’s main man. He gets to watch all things powerful, all things mighty, all things God – up close and personal.
He watches God brings drought. He experiences provision from the beak of a raven. He witnesses flour and oil flow from a widow’s obedience and her empty cupboard. He feels the pulsing warmth of life return to her dead son, as he drapes his faith over his cold and lifeless body.
Elijah sees it all.
Then like a kid at a fireworks finale, Elijah gets to watch God’s presence explode with fire from heaven on a water-drenched offering – precious drought-hoarded water – silencing the prophets of Baal.
At last he gets to see hearts turn and the rains return.
…Surely it’s time to celebrate, right?
But it isn’t. Because Satan always seems to attack when life is right or energy is spent, and true to form threatens Elijah with certain death. The camel’s back snaps and Elijah runs.
Worn out. Emotionally drained. Spent… Elijah runs into the wilderness alone, afraid and ashamed.
He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ” “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
But God doesn’t snuff Elijah out. He doesn’t even chastise. Instead, He sends an angel to give him food in the evening, and again in the morning,
“Get up and eat for the journey is too much for you.”
Elijah’s on a journey of the soul, and God knows it, provides for it, and strengthens him in it.
And Elijah runs again. For forty days and forty nights he runs. Runs to the only place he knows he must. Elijah runs straight to the mountain of God and his waiting Creator who gently asks,
“What are you doing here, Elijah?
But I imagine Elijah doesn’t hear gentle. I imagine Elijah hears God’s question filtered through the harsh bitterness of his own self-condemning ears – tainted with accusations and disgust, like the Wizard of Oz’s booming first reply from behind the curtain, “And just what exactly are you doing here, Elijah, you poor excuse for a man?”
I imagine he only hears the thud of the reply he’s rehearsed to himself over and over with each running step,
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant,torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
But I imagine what Elijah’s heart is really saying is, “Lord, I’m tired and I’m scared. I’ve got nothing more to give… Are you here for me, God?… Will you help me past this fear? Do you have a firework finale for me too, Lord?”
How many times has that been me? Running. Crying. Alone. Afraid. Ashamed… done.
How many times have I heard the voice of God sounding through my fear, or pride, or rebellion, or…. like the muted horn in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
Elijah has witnessed so much of God’s heart-stopping, purpose-punching power and yet here he is running. From hero to zero in a heartbeat.
Yet still the Lord provides and strengthens and listens and answers,
“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire,but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
No special effects needed.
All human filters stripped.
And God, the God of all love, the One who is Gentle and True…
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
…What are you doing here, Jane?
Father, I love your gentle whispers. Thank you, Lord, for dying for me to tear that “Oz curtain” in two.
Watering today: Prov. 19; Ps 19, 1 Kings 17 – 20; Col 2-4