“Coach, I just don’t think I can do this anymore.”
“Jesus, I really need Your help. I do not have anything left to keep going. How can I keep going?”
These two comments are mine. One said on Wednesday and the other, this morning. One said to my Coach as he was giving me the game plan for my new orthotics. And the cry to Jesus was this morning when that said game plan has wrecked havoc on my coping capabilities.
Last week I wrote about feeling stuck in a situation and focusing on getting out, rather than finding God in the moment. How true for me right now. I want out. I don’t think I have what it takes to keep going. I have been reduced to living in my bedroom and being wheeled down to the rest of the house. How in the world did I get here?
In my preparation to teach 1 Kings 17:1-6 on the beginning of Elijah’s ministry, I was listening to a sermon last night on this passage. What the pastor pointed out was the meaning of some names. Elijah means “The LORD is my God” and he is a Tishbite (being from Tishbe) and that means “One who brings to repentance.” So, Elijah serves the LORD only, in a land of Baal worshippers and he has been sent by God to King Ahab and the Northern Kingdom to call back those to repentance. The people in the Northern Kingdom had allowed themselves to be side tracked by Baal worship. Idolatry.
Do not make for yourselves idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves. Leviticus 26:1
This is a retelling of the 10 commandments from Exodus 20. Through a succession of evil kings, the people as well as the king, had not lived in obedience to this command. What is noteworthy is the blessings from God when one follows His commands:
If you follow My decrees and are careful to obey My commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field, their fruit. Leviticus 26:3
The very thing that Elijah proclaims is a drought. Drought, especially in the Old Testament, is a sign of judgment from God. God cannot be mocked (Galatians 6:7), because that which we sow, we reap. The northern tribes had sown idolatry. The consequences were drought. For an unspecified amount of time. No rain – no crops. No crops- no food. Hardship. Heartache. Parched land. Parched people.
What is interesting is that this very same judgment, Elijah would have to endure. But, God had a plan. Elijah proclaimed in this very prophecy that he served the LORD the God of Israel. God, the One and only living God. Not Baal. Right after Elijah pronounces this judgment, God tells him to go to a brook – Kerith Brook to be exact. Kerith means to separate, or cut away. This is Elijah’s desert. Or rather, a beginning of his desert experience. He went to the brook and the LORD completely provided for his needs – he is fed by ravens. He drank water from this brook. Ravens, according to the Law, are unclean animals. They are scavengers. They eat carrion. And yet, these same birds brought fresh bread and meat to Elijah beside the brook. But then, the brook dried up because of the drought, because of God's judgment.
Elijah did everything the LORD told him to do. And yet he still was himself, in a drought. And lack of water is a pretty good definition of a desert. There are many people in the Bible that God led to a desert. Abram. Moses. Israelites. Naomi. Jesus. Paul. (And although it might not be a physical desert, it was a time of drought in a person’s life). Why God uses the desert to get someone’s attention is beyond me, but He does. And I will say it is very effective.
The pastor I was listening to, said that God uses the desert to grow a person. To bring him to a place of utter emptiness. Separating away so as to be one with God. Cutting away all, so it is not our righteousness, but His.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Psalm 23:4
I am in a desert. I did not hear a voice telling me to go here, rather, Jesus Himself is carrying me here. I am in that gorge or box canyon, in a very deep rut in which I cannot get out even if I tried. I am stuck. And the only way to have a shadow is if there is light. Jesus Himself is that Light. God does not send us on ahead, He goes with us. God did not send Elijah on ahead, He went with him and He provided for his every need.
He has not left me alone. He carried me here. He has me beside the brook. He is the Living Water on which to fill my cup. He is my daily Bread on which to feast. I am definitely in the desert, in a drought. I have the dry cracked lips. I have a sun scorched heart. I am worn out.
I would say, that God has me exactly where He wants me. I cannot escape, I cannot feed on anything else because it all tastes like gravel. I cannot drink of anything else for my thirst is not quenched. I can only be still in this desert and allow Him to carry me. My works are like filthy rags. Anything I attempt to do to change my circumstances doesn’t change them at all.
Thy will be done, LORD. I think I finally get it.