Today, 20 July, is the feast day of Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. His example of courageous faith has inspired me (& many others) for a very long time. Returning from an 8-day silent retreat filled with healing for a burned-out redhead, I wrote this reflection about Elijah. May it bless all who are worn out, discouraged, tired and tired of…
This morning in church I got to thinking about Elijah. Thank You, God, for his faith going up against the prophets of Baal and Your faithfulness when he ran, pell-mell, from Jezebel after that great victory on Mt. Carmel.
Why does Elijah’s example seem so relevant now?
He had faith of immense proportions. Gigantic. Huge. He taunted the 450 prophets of Baal. He not only put wood on the altar of sacrifice, he also immersed it with buckets of water that turned the trench around the altar into a small lake.
He believed. His faith said, ‘God is GOD of miracles that bring glory to God’s name. We will make a water-logged altar, so the people of Israel will know God’s response is not a lucky fluke, but a miracle.’
Then Elijah witnessed Your blazing fire completely consume the sacrifice and evaporate the buckets of water in the trenches. In the throes of Your miraculous response, Elijah wiped out the prophets of Baal. All 450 of them. Victory for God, Hallelujah! Time to now start marching on the palace to root out the evil rulers of the day. He prayed and You delivered a major miracle. Surely all of Elijah’s future challenges will be tackled as efficiently.
Fresh from victory and miracles, Elijah hears Jezebel is on the warpath to get him. Does he remember Your awesome power? Your faithfulness when he stood one against 450? (Relatively daunting odds.)
No. He turns into a cowardly pile of jelly and runs into the desert to hide. From a Public Relations perspective, it was bad timing to run. After such a huge victory for God, he should have filled the Judean airwaves with anti-Jezebel messages and pro-God sound bytes. (The FIRE has come. God wants You: NOW!) Canvassing village to village, he could have roused the troops of faith, strategically riding the miracle momentum into an all-out campaign to replace the vile rulers.
Instead, Elijah runs “in fear for his very life.” Where is his awesome faith now? The faith that believed in Your victorious triumph over evil and Your overwhelming ability to respond, not with just a match-stick flame to lightly toast the sacrifice, but with awesome power to handle water-logged trenches too?
Unfortunately, Elijah’s buckets of water faith suffered a few faith-beats of failure. When he heard Jezebel’s threat to kill him, he didn’t stop to pray, he just ran. (It says something about Jezebel, that she was more frightening than 450 men!)
Yet despite this faith setback, You restored and renewed Elijah.
He was tired. Very, very tired. You let him sleep and provided food.
Then he walked for 40 days and nights with supernatural strength to Mt. Horeb. There, after a bombastic hurricane, earthquake and fire passed by, he heard Your still, small voice.
In the quiet of his heart, he heard Your voice.
What did You say? The record in the first book of Kings (chapters 18-19) is short. Maybe Elijah was too uncomfortable to include the private bits of Your conversations. Maybe they went something like this:
“Elijah, I am with you ALWAYS, in victory and in defeat. When you act with courage, I am with you – strengthening your faith. Know also, that when you’re afraid – when fear grips your very soul, paralyzing your mind – I’m still with you.
I will meet all your needs. I will cover your back, guiding your steps against evil Jezebels pursuing you. I will protect you with the armor of My love and let your spirit soar on the wings of My joy. My peace will permeate the pallor of anxiety clogging your arteries of belief. My grace will handle your faith-beats of failure. My wisdom will help clarify what really matters. I will restore and renew your faith. My angels will look after you.
Believe in Me and in My love for You.
See, you are not alone. There are others faithful to Me, so if you look around, you will get help in this battle against the darkness.
It’s not about you, it’s about Me. God of all consuming Light, I will blaze My fire through the clouds of doubt blocking your sight. Be mine. Open wider the doors of your heart. Break the chains of fear. Let the brilliant Light of My kingdom within you shine out for all to see.
You have seen My miracles outside you, now let my Holy Spirit empower new miracles within you. New mercies are available every morning, just turn on the Heavenly tap. Let Me infuse you with sparkling champagne of the spiritual realm: My steadfast love for you.
Be transformed by My love, for I am here with you always.
When you are weak, I am strong. Don’t be dismayed, open your heart and keep walking the path of faith with Me. Let the light of My love bubble over for all to see.
Those buckets of cold water you’ve poured in the tired out trenches around your heart, let the spark of My love ignite them back into blazing furnaces of faith: ready for transformation, ready for action, ready to be who, where, and what I want you to be.
Go now, be my Hands and Feet to the hurting. Be grace. Be peace. Be salt in this tasteless world. Be Joy. Be Light – brilliant, burning bright – in the darkness.
Be Love. Be ME.”
After Your still, small voice, Elijah went back with his faith renewed to follow Your plan. What a lesson from a great saint about faith, the buckets of water kind. But why is this still meaningful 5,000 years (or so) later? Just as Elijah ran in pell-mell fear to the desert, I may have knowingly (or unknowingly) done the same thing.
Oh Lord, even after witnessing countless examples (often miraculous) of Your awesome faithfulness, I’ve suffered recent faith-beat failures. The need is too great. The obstacles are too big. I am too tired. My get-up-and-go got up and left. I’m stuck in the snows of doubt with fear-bitten feet, too cold to walk forward into the new.
As Elijah’s buckets of water faith weathered the drought of fear and exhaustion, I want to follow his example now.
Please, Lord God, strengthen my faith. Let the warmth of Your love defrost these fear-bitten feet. Ignite my heart’s desire to be transformed with the Flame of Your Kingdom: come, Holy Spirit, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, fill me with Your Fire.
Heavenly Father, fill this clay, earthen pot with the sparkling champagne of the spiritual realm – your steadfast Love for ME and all those around me. Let this heart beat as one with Your love, joy, peace, grace, wisdom, mercy and patience.
May You provide a deep well of courage to move forward, one step at a time, to face whatever challenges may come with renewed faith – Elijah’s buckets-of-water kind!
Virginia : )
(26 November 2006)