Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March is Here!

I started this month with such high hopes! I set my goals for the month, made a new workout plan, I was really excited. Except this sinus cold thing will NOT go away! We're on day eight and I still feel miserable. Not quite as bad as last week, but still not good. Just want to sleep the week away. So nothing is getting done, and my gym clothes are just sitting there all sad because I can't use them. I've been pushing myself to go to work, but I did get cancelled yesterday, which was fortunate because I really felt run down yesterday. So since I'm not really doing much, I don't have much to share. I bought myself this fancy new Macbook I'm writing on, but I think that's the most exciting thing all week! Oh! And I got chosen to be on the Launch Team for Jon Acuff's new book Start. Pretty excited for that.

But you didn't come to see me ramble on in my sickness. You want something entertaining or meaningful (I'm assuming). Here's what I've got. Today we did our last Kids Night on Elijah (we've been studying him for the past 3 weeks). Tonight we talked about when he ran from Jezebel after the showdown on Mount Carmel. You can find the story in 1 Kings 19. If you're not familiar with it, Jezebel has wanted to kill Elijah for over 3 years. He comes to town, has a massive showdown on top of a mountain between his God Yahweh, and their god Baal. In the end, Baal's prophets are unable to rouse their god to accept their sacrifice, no matter how hard they try. Elijah utters a simple prayer, and God sends fire to consume not only the sacrifice, but the entire water-soaked altar as well. After winning the "My God is bigger than your god" battle, Elijah kills all 450 of Baal's prophets, which prompts Jezebel to send a messenger to him stating her intentions to kill him. Elijah freaks out and runs away. Like, really really far away. Over 100 miles away to a desert.

So Elijah the prophet, who has been crazy courageous and has performed amazing miracles, is now hiding in the desert, scared, feeling alone. The man who prayed and caused a drought, then prayed again and made it rain after 3.5 years, now prayed to die. He curled up under a tree and went to sleep. An angel wakes him up twice and feeds him a nice desert-cooked meal, then sends him on his way to Mount Horeb (aka Sinai). On the mountain, hiding in a cave, the Lord comes to Elijah and asks, "why are you here?" Elijah whines to God like a little kid might: I've been so good, telling everyone about you, and none of the other Israelites are following you. I'm the only one left and they're trying to kill me! God passes by the cave and there's a mighty wind, but God wasn't in the wind. There's a large earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake. There's a roaring fire, but God wasn't in the fire. Finally there's a small whisper. Some translations say a deafening silence.

Now, if you've grown up in church, you're going to tell me that God was in the whisper. But that's not what the Bible says. God's presence produced all that racket and the whisper, though he wasn't IN any of them. After all the noise, that sudden stillness brings Elijah out of the cave. I imagine that he was used to the "noise" of God. Think of all the miracles he did! Of course he knew God's presence when he saw it! It was the still quiet that seemed different and brought him out of his cave. God again asks him, "Why are you here?" and Elijah replies with the same whine.

I imagine this scene like a very tender father-son moment. Elijah's whining, digging his toe in the dirt, not looking at God. But the ever-sensitive Abba Father sees exactly what Elijah needs. He tenderly tells Elijah what to do, where to go, and gives him a helper, as well as reminding him that he's not alone; there are 7,000 other Israelites devoted to the Lord.

This passage makes me happy. It tells me it's okay to be a little whiney to God sometimes. It's okay to be moody and tired and want to give up on occasion. God understands us. He knows just what we need, and will meet us where we're at, even if we've run 100 miles away from where we should be. He'll send his presence in many ways until we turn to Him. He will provide the support we need to fulfill his promises.

So many times we hold Elijah up to an impossible standard, as the ultimate in Christian heroes, and this story gets left out. Yet this is one of the most important stories his life offers. Not many of us can relate to bringing a person back to life, but we can all relate to disappointment and feeling alone. If one of the mightiest prophets of all time had a dark moment, it's not so bad for us to have a dark moment, either. What matters is that we continue to trust in the Lord, and move on. We have to leave the cave and answer the question, "Why are you here?"

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