it might just be me, but i have always wanted to do crazy things for jesus. i am sure it is partially because i am foolish and immature, but i have always had this desire to heal someone, or make the blind see, or call down fire from heaven.
about six years ago, i was reading through the bible and it became new to me. for some reason, it was different. it was alive in a way it had never been before. at the time i was reading about elijah. maybe thats why i have an affinity for him. or maybe it is because he is a badass. (and if i am ever blessed to have a son his name will be elijah.)
elijah has a freaking sweet story. during elijah’s life, israel had been more broken than it had ever been. they also had their worst king in all their history. the king was horrible. he was worthless. his name is king ahab. and israel isn’t even close to following God.
so God sends elijah as his messenger to king ahab to call israel back to following the one true God. so elijah addresses king ahab and all of israel and says,
“how long will you (israel) go limping between two different opinions? ”
(just as a side note: isn’t that an interesting way of saying that they were following other gods? it kind of makes me wonder if i am limping around with “other opinions”.)
he continues, “if the one true God is really God, then follow him. and if he is not, then dont.”
he then sets up a little competition between the gods of ahab and the God of elijah, the one true God. he basically says, ” here is what we will do, we will both build altars and we will ask our gods to set fire to them. the altar that set fire points to the one true God.” simple.
the competition sounds good to everyone and they get into it. elijah gives the prophets of king ahab’s god the first try.
as the story goes, nothing happens. elijah heckles them a little saying they need to shout louder because maybe their god is taking a nap or maybe he is in the bathroom taking a leak. they continue and shout louder, but to no avail. still no fire.
then elijah takes his turn. he builds an altar. then just to make a point, he pours water, lots of water, on his altar. then he says to the one true God, “o Lord, i am your servant. send fire so that everyone may know that you are the one true God.” then fire came down.
again, i am sure it is because i am a foolish, but i have always wanted to do something ridiculous like that. who does that kind of stuff!?!? elijah does…i guess more accurately God does, but he used elijah in the event. elijah was strong and bold and full of faith. he was fearless.
at least i thought he was.
i read the story again today and i caught something that i think i had missed before. maybe i just “forgot” about it before or maybe i just had a man crush on elijah and didn’t want to associate this part with him.
soon after elijah calls down fire from heaven, he gets scared. really scared. he is filled with fear. ahab’s wife is pretty pissed about how the events turned out. so she vows to kill elijah by the following day.
he runs. literally for his life.
the bold, fearless elijah who called down fire from heaven is scared.
i was really bummed at first when i read this. it kind of messed up my view of elijah. it is probably for the best, but i was still mildly disappointed in reading it.
it was this part of the story that not only shifted my view of elijah, but more importantly, my view of God.
elijah is running in fear for his life and gets out in the wilderness and is so distraught that he literally asks God if it would not be better for God to just take his life!
had he so quickly forgotten what had just happened?
the thing that really hit me was what God did while elijah was scared to death and running.
elijah falls asleep under a tree and God sends an angel to him. the angel wakes him up and says, “arise and eat.” sitting next to elijah is a fresh warm loaf of bread and a jar of water. elijah eats and falls asleep again.
a second time the angel comes and wakes elijah with food and water. again the angel says, “arise and eat.” but this time the angel adds a little something. he says, “for the journey is too great for you.”
if i was God (what a phrase), i think i would have been annoyed. frustrated. maybe a little angry with the flaky elijah.
but this is not God’s response.
he knows us and what we can and can’t handle.
he responds with patience.
isn’t that beautiful?
and to top it all off, God takes elijah to a solitary place and gives him a vision of the future that is full of hope.
this is how God interacts with us.
when we are full of fear and unsure if we can make the journey. God offers us peace, rest, and sustenance. and hope.
as kerri and i continue stacking our stones and as things can sometimes feel too much, we feel like we can hear him saying, “arise and eat.”