Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Do you encounter God in the noise or in the silence? Elijah experienced both in powerful ways. God led Elijah through two great victories: God led Elijah to defeat the prophets of Baal and God answered his prayer for rain to end the drought. He must have been worn out after the period of wars and prayers and rain but he must also have been on an emotional and spiritual high. What sometimes happens after really BIG highs? We feel really BIG lows. We are exhausted and emotionally drained. Elijah must have felt that. He probably wanted to get some real R and R by the Mediterranean Sea. And then Ahab tattled on him to Jezebel saying that Elijah had killed the prophets of Baal. Jezebel was not too happy, so she threatened to kill Elijah. I’m sure all Elijah wanted at that time was to sit on the hammock, eat some figs, and rest in his victory but then a death threat reigns down on his head. So… Elijah fled for some alone time in the wilderness. He found a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. In his solitude Elijah must have examined the ugly in his life.
He cried out to God, “I’ve had enough, Lord. Take my life.”
God allowed Elijah to rest. Elijah lay down and slept under the broom tree, a type of desert shrub, sometimes large enough to offer shade for those in need.
Isn’t that what we all need? We need a broom tree to find peace and quiet, solitude.
God spoke and told Elijah to eat. There beside his head Elijah discovered some baked bread and a jar of water. In the solitude, God was providing for Elijah. Then God allowed Elijah to rest some more. God’s angel told Elijah to eat again because there was a long journey ahead of him.
Elijah obeyed and gained enough strength to travel forty days to Mount Sinai. Elijah needed a little more solitude so he found a cave and slept the night away and then the Lord spoke.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
God knew what Elijah was doing but God wants us to respond to him. God wanted Elijah to explain himself. When we must explain ourselves to God, we give voice to our brokenness. This can be an emotional period for us when we cry out God. Sometimes it’s an emotional breakthrough. It’s an emotional release. I know that when I can just talk out loud about what’s been bothering me, I feel better.
Elijah broke down. “I have served you Lord but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you and they have killed all of your prophets. I am all that is left and now they want to kill me.”
In his time of solitude Elijah contemplated what was not going well.
God called Elijah to action in the midst of his solitude. “Go stand on the mountain.” As Elijah stood, the Lord passed by and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. The rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind, Then there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.
I imagine the whisper got Elijah’s attention. The sound of silence is deafening, isn’t it! Elijah was realizing that God doesn’t always reveal himself in powerful and big ways like he had experienced before. God was powerful and big and very obvious when he helped Elijah kill the prophets of Baal and when he caused the rains to pour down after the drought. But now God was found in a whisper. Elijah humbly wrapped his face in his cloak and went out to face the Lord.
Has God ever gotten your attention in a way that caused you to humble yourself and face him-- the Truth? That kind of experience has the potential to be life transforming. It is most likely to happen when we leave the noise and live in the solitude for awhile.
Once again the Lord asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah once again explained himself. In summary, Elijah said, “I worked for you; they didn’t, and now they want to kill me.”
And then the Lord gave his detailed plans. He told Elijah to return the way he came and anoint three different people. God told Elijah the three men who would ultimately destroy Baal worship. God revealed his plan to bring about his judgment against the house of Ahab. God had a plan; Elijah just needed to listen to God. Elijah surrendered to God under the broom tree and moved forward in faith. Victory was his for the taking. Elijah experienced a personal victory of faith and carried out God’s divine will.
It is under our own broom tree where we may learn the most important lessons of life. The broom tree is where we can encounter God. It’s the place where we are vulnerable. It is the place where we can surrender our will to God. It’s the place where he wants to find us so that we can explain ourselves and so that he can reveal himself. Our broom tree is where we go for solitude so that we can really experience our own personal victory of faith.
Do you need to step away from the noise in order to hear God?
Where is your “broom tree?” God wants to meet you there.