Posts Tagged ‘Elijah’

View from Sfunim Wadi - Mount Carmel Israel, P...

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People do the strangest things at the oddest times. Sometimes after a great victory in our lives we just do the weirdest thing, then can’t believe we’ve done it.

Today I was thinking about Elijah. If there was a hallway in heaven called, “The Great Prophets of God”, Elijah’s name would totally be there.

The funny thing about the gift of prophecy is that people seem to think it’s a really cool gift to have because they associate it with predicting the future and seeing what’s going to happen. And that is part of being a prophet, but basically it’s just about telling others what God’s telling you to tell them.  It could be for the future, but it could just as easily be for right now, to help you in your walk today.

It’s kind of like being a messenger. Scripture is very clear on the fact that being a prophet is not easy and many times people don’t want to hear what you have to say. I mean really, when you think about it, if they’re not going to listen to God Himself why would they listen to the person He sent to tell them His will?

But, in my eyes, Elijah did one of the coolest things of any of the Old Testament prophets. He called on God to burn up an offering in 1 Kings 18 in what could be called a ‘my God against yours’ match. The prophets of Baal went first. Now Elijah knew his God. He knew who God was. He knew what God could do. He had no doubt about the fact that his God was going to come down and dominate the competition. Elijah even went so far as to mock the prophets of Baal as they try to get their god to respond.

Of course their god didn’t show up. In fact my version of the events reads, among other not too kindly words for these prophets of Baal, “Then they did their lame dance around the alter they made.” 1 Kings 18:26

Yet, when Elijah called on God, He showed up in such a huge way that there was no doubt who was actually God. He not only consumed the offering Elijah had put out for Him, a water logged offering at that, but the fire He sent down obliterated everything, the offering, the 12 stones, the wood, the dust and all the water until there was nothing left. There was no doubt that not only was God God, but He was hugely powerful as well.

It was just a short time later that Elijah did the strangest thing. He ran away in fear, but not from God. He ran away in fear from a very powerful woman.

He seemed to have a moment of amnesia about who God was, and what He had just done, when Queen Jezebel put a death threat out on his head. And Elijah wasn’t just a little afraid, he was so afraid that he ran a huge distance in a short time to get away from the threat.

Then he left his servant behind, slept under a tree where an angel gave him food when he woke up, and walked for 40 days until he came to a cave in a mountain and spent the night there. That’s where God came to him.

And He asks Elijah a funny question. He says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?’ As if God didn’t already know what Elijah was doing there, as if He didn’t already know that Elijah was running for his life, that he was tired. He had seen God’s prophets killed and tried to give God’s message to an unresponsive people. Elijah was weary. He felt as if he were the only one left alive serving God, and he tells God all about it.

One question from God brought a floodgate of emotions from Elijah, and maybe, just maybe, at another time, in another place, he wouldn’t have been so honest with God about how he felt. How weary he was. How lonely and alone he felt serving this one true God.

God knew this and maybe that’s why He asked Elijah that most basic and banal of all questions. Because sometimes it only takes the slightest touch to open a wound.

We’re really not so different from Elijah, because when we’re in a spot like he was, feeling hurt, alone and weary, all it takes is a few words in a voice of caring to cause the floodgates of our hearts to open. Those few words take on another meaning entirely when we realize they are spoken by the God who is in love with and deeply cares for each one of us.

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Psalm 145:8










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Clarissa the Donkey. Photo by Hans Roth to the Calaveras Enterprise.

It’s a funny thing what people take to their hearts, what they listen to.

Children and animals seem to always have the ability to melt people’s hearts into a puddle of sweetness as they gaze on a sleeping golden retriever puppy, or a child laughing over a purple, black and pink butterfly flying away.

But, a donkey? Or a burro? At first glance, this little gray coated creature with its braying voice seems hard pressed to capture anyone’s attention and melt their heart.

In my little corner of the world where fact is very often stranger than fiction, that’s just what happened many years ago. A burro named Clarissa was born to her mother in Murphys and became the town donkey, or burro, depending on who you ask.

She’s lived across the street from me for the last two and a half years. I didn’t take into account that she was going to be one of my neighbors until I actually moved into my little shoebox and heard her every morning, every afternoon and every evening. My son and I heard her pretty much all the time except in the middle of the night when she was sleeping, which we were very happy about because that meant we could get sleep too.

She was literally the town burro, or donkey depending on whom you ask, because who her owners were, what land she resided on, and a few other factoids were a little fuzzy as tends to happen in a small town, where local lore grows like mushrooms in a fairy tale and it’s very hard to decipher fact from fiction.

Many people would come and feed her carrots and other tidbits that she liked, with some stopping in town just to see her on their way up, or down, the hill to their vacation spots.

She was well cared for and loved, melting people’s hearts with her course braying and insatiable appetite for carrots. An unlikely object of affection.

Clarissa passed away just recently. It was her time, she was over 25 years old, but still, this event made the front page of the local newspaper – above the fold  – and was talked about in local schools.

But, in my little shoebox, it’s the sound that’s off because it’s too quiet. In a rural county where people go to get away from the noise, Clarissa’s braying became a constant backdrop to my little families’ existence, not truly noticed until it was gone.

Isn’t that what it’s like with so many objects of our affection? Obvious or not? They are comfortable backdrops in our lives, not gaining our full attention until the silence in the wake of their leaving becomes all too loud, and sometimes that’s when we really start to listen.

“After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.”

1 Kings 19:12

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