Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stories and the why question

I recently finished 1 & 2 Samuel and I'm now in 1 Kings. I'm pretty familiar with all of the stories, but this time through I feel like the story quality of these books has been illluminated to me. The emotion, the fear, the betrayal, the revenge, the love, the jealousy. At first I thought this perspective would disappear after I finished with David's story, but it just keeps on going! His sons, his grandsons, the overthrowing of the throne! It's excellent, action packed reading.

Just this week one of my favorite Bible figures has come onto the scene: Elijah. His story is gripping! He performs incredible miracles, calling down fire from God, defeating the prophets of Baal, seeing rain fall for the first time in over 3 years, outruns chariots, is fed supernatural food by angels, runs for 40 days straight, sees wind rip apart a mountain, witnesses a supernatural earthquake and raging fire and is able to discern the gentle whisper that is the voice of God! But in the midst of all this he is desperate, scared and incredibly lonely. At one point he tells God that he's through and asks God to take his life.

1 Kings 19:14-18 records that on Mount Horeb Elijah cries out to God saying, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken 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." It's after this that God's answer comes quickly. God gives Elijah instructions and lets him know not only has He been preparing a ministry partner and successor for Elijah, there are also "7,000 in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

What an incredible response! It wasn't instant. Elijah had been feeling all alone in his quest for God for a long time before God answered and encouraged by sending him to Elisha and letting him know there were others who were devoted toe God. God kept urging Elijah along, even when Elijah finally got to the mountain he had to state his case twice. Why?

Why doesn't God answer our questions and our despairs right away? I don't know. But I do know that God is at work even when we are frustrated with Him and want to give up. Even when we feel like we're all alone, His plan is working. He is leading us to Mount Horeb where He will reveal His answer.

Elijah's story is so inspirational because it's finished. We know the end. We know God didn't let Elijah die in the desert or leave him to be killed by Queen Jezebel. It's much more desperate when we're in the middle of our own stories. But there is hope.
Wherever you are in your journey with God, whether you are seeing God bring down consuming fire and drenching a dry desert land in rain or you are slumped against a broom tree trunk in the middle of the desert telling God that you're finished, you can't keep going. He has a plan. He's leading you to the place where He can speak to your need too.

1 comment:

Ramona said...

Margaret Feinberg introduces her book The Sacred Echo (which you blogged about earlier and which has been a great Mother's Day gift) with thoughts on Elijah ... that God uses circumstances and events in our lives as sacred echoes of His "voice", to prepare us for an encounter with Him. Like you said, He is leading us to the place where He can speak to our real needs ... sometimes they are not at all what we think they are.