"A Message for the Weary and Worn-Out"
"And Ahab went out to meet Elijah. The moment Ahab saw Elijah, he said, ‘So it's you, old troublemaker!' "It's not I who has caused trouble in Israel," said Elijah, ‘but you and your government - you've dumped God's ways and commands and run off after the local gods, the Baals. Here's what I want you to d Assemble everyone in Israel at Mount Carmel. And make sure that the special pets of Jezebel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of the local gods, the Baals, and the four hundred prophets of the whore goddess Asherah, are there.' So Ahab summoned everyone in Israel, particularly the prophets, to Mount Carmel."
I Kings 18: 16-20, The Message
EXPLORATION When You're at the End of Your Rope
"Over the frontier, in the wilderness, it can seem as if the world is falling to pieces…and yet the call keeps coming, a call, I think, which is not so much to power as to community with all those others who are wounded, whose worlds or lives also seem to be falling apart, yet who are actually - we must believe - giving birth to something new."
Is there a time in my life when I felt despondent and alone?
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance."
Psalm 42: 5K.J.V.
"God is able…my weak health and lack of ability seem to deny me success, but when I am weak, God is strong."
Kiye Sato Yamamuro
Woman who began the Salvation Army in Japan
Over the last few weeks, I have sensed from reading all the emails and prayer requests that we need to take a three-day break from studying the women in the Bible to take a drink of hope from God's well of everlasting water of life. We need to remind ourselves who is in charge of our lives here on planet earth. And so I want to take time today to reflect on a story of how God's refreshment empowers us in the midst of turmoil.
If you want to read a riveting story in the Bible - a story with extreme drama and a cliff-hander of an ending take your Bible and read the entire chapter of I Kings 18. You'll come away saying, "What a story! What a Man! What a God!"
This Biblical story is about Elijah who was an anointed prophet of God. God called him to deliver a Heavenly message directly to Ahab - the evil King of Israel. When Elijah finished the task God had given him, the consequence was that the Word of God came true. The rain stopped and a devastating drought enveloped the land. Protecting His servant, God first sent Elijah to the Brook Cherith where He provided water from a stream and food brought by ravens. When the creek dried up, God again led Elijah to a place of safety, Zidon, outside of Ahab's rule. Here Elijah was sent to the home of a widow in Zarephath. This unselfish foreign lady gave protection, shelter, and food to Elijah. He, in turn, brought God's blessing upon her house and when her son died, through God's power, Elijah raised the child to life. After three years, the Bible tells us "the word of the Lord came to Elijah" (I Kings 18:1) and God sent him back to the palace of his nemesis - Ahab the evil!
Elijah told this vicious, violent man to gather all the false prophets and the little pals of the wicked Queen Jezebel on Mount Carmel along with all the citizens of Israel.
I've tried to imagine this scene in my mind's eye. Talk about a circus. When these heathen prophets got to the top of Mount Carmel, Elijah instructed them to call on their gods to consume with fire the offering on an altar they built. The Bible says that, "from morning until noon" these guys screamed and hollered, begging Baal to answer. At noon, Elijah began to push harder. "And it came to pass at noon, Elijah mocked them, and said, ‘Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded" (I Kings 18: 26-29, K.J.V.).
All day long, these frenzied false prophets tried to prove the superiority of their gods, to no avail. Finally, in the evening at sunset, Elijah called all the people to "come near." He quietly repaired the broken down altar of God. He had 4 barrels of water dumped over the altar three times. That's twelve barrels of water. Finally, this loyal, devoted, conscientious servant of God began to pray: "Hear me, O Lord, hear me that this people may know that Thou art Lord God" (I King 18: 37, K.J.V.).
God answered Elijah's prayer. But God didn't answer the prayer quietly. He answered it in one of the most dramatic scenes recorded in the Bible. "The fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench" (I King 18: 38, K.J.V.). After Elijah prayed again, a small cloud appeared in the sky which developed into such a cloud burst if it hadn't been for Elijah running ahead of Ahab's chariot, guiding him back to the palace, it is unlikely the King would have found his way to the city.
Let's stop here and look at a couple of things about Elijah. Through God's power he raised the widow's son from the dead! God responded to his prayers by bringing fire and rain down from the heavens. Talk about a human being in touch with the Divine. If ever someone knew God and had personally seen God respond to his needs, it was the man - Elijah. God moved heaven and earth for him. Not just once, but over and over again. One miracle after another. One outpouring of God's power after another.
AND YET -- the next thing we find in I Kings 19, Elijah was running for his life, defeated, scared, despondent, and weary. All because of a woman. When Ahab informed Jezebel, his wife, that her prophets lost the battle with the God of Heaven, she decided to take her revenge out on God's servant Elijah. She ordered Elijah killed - murdered. When poor pooped Elijah got wind of her plan, this over-stressed, over-tired, over-worked man of God, fell apart and bolted out of town. Elijah had endured enough and in a moment of overwhelming weariness, the rotten Jezebel and her threats were able to do to this burned-out worker for God what no other person or calamity up to that point had been able to do.
How this story should resonate with each of us. For it is at the times when we are extremely tired emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally that the enemy hits us where we hurt the most. Like Elijah, we find ourselves vulnerable to attacks of depression, despair , and loneliness.
Has this happened to you? You're working two jobs, taking care of the kids by yourself and then your car breaks down and you wonder, "Where is God when I need Him most?" Forgotten are the Mount Carmel's in your life when God saved you from some massive problem! Like Elijah, all you can see is darkness, rain, and an evil person who is threatening your life. And if you're like me, I'll be honest with you, I've run, just like Elijah did.
AND YET - what we don't see through the tears blinding our eyes, is that we have company on our way to the cave in the wilderness. God is running right along side us, in fact, sometimes He's the One carrying us. Every step we take, He takes, too. He knows exactly where we are. And what's even more kind, our loving Father understands completely, even better than we do, what has driven us to run away.
Thankfully, God doesn't leave us alone to try and find our way out of the wilderness. When He knows we are ready, "the Son comes with healing in His wings." God comes into the cave of our desperation and gently renews our broken bodies and refreshes our crushed spirit. This is what God did for Elijah and He promises to do the same for you and me if we will let Him.
"I feel that I am weak,
And prone to every sin;
But Thou who gives to those who seek,
Wilt give me strength within.
I need not fear my foes,
I need not yield to care,
I need not sink beneath my woes,
For Thou wilt answer prayer.
In my Redeemer's Name
I give myself to Thee;
And, all unworthy as I am.
My God will cherish me."
And God Was There
"The cold, hard crying winds trudged,
a dusting snow softened the lands,
and God was there to be sure the snowflakes were all unique.
Then joyful rain showers shipped,
the cooling drops refreshing the earth,
and God was there to be sure they would make flowers bloom.
The golden rays came tumbling down,
and cheered the earth inside and out,
and God was there to be sure traveling feet were soothed.
Then air so crisp went running about,
and painted the leaves so bright, bright red
and God was there to be sure only the best paints were used.
Wherever you go, God will walk with you,
and make sure the ground on which you tread is
softened, refreshed, warmed, and only the best."
Victoria Jean Novak, Age 13
Saint Robert School, Shorewood, WI
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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