I don’t like emotions like dread or fear. I instinctively avoid uncomfortable or dangerous places. I like the adage, “Look before you leap.” And the softer the landing the better! Yet I want to live a life of courage and faith. Recently Elijah the prophet caught my attention. Elijah was human just like me (James 5:17). He experienced fear and dread, yet he found the grace to walk by faith in courage, and God used him in some miraculous ways.
Elijah served God during a very dark time in Israel’s history. In 1 Kings 17, the kingdom is divided and Elijah is sent to deliver some bad news to evil King Ahab. “No rain or dew in the next few years except at my word.” Now, if even “good” kings were known to imprison the bearers of unpleasant news, even when the messenger was the mouthpiece of God, what would an evil king do? I wonder if that question nagged Elijah.
Whether it did or not, we are not told, but Elijah obeyed God without any recorded assurance things would be OK for him. After he delivered the message, “Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah,” telling him to leave! God had a brook and some ravens ready to support his needs. But God didn’t tell Elijah about the provision until after Elijah had obeyed God on his dangerous mission.
About the time Elijah gets comfortable having birds cater his breakfast and dinner, the brook dries up. Did it dry up slowly? Was Elijah starting to worry? We aren’t told. We only know that after the brook dried up, then the word of the Lord came to Him, “Go, I’ve commanded a widow to take care of you.”
Elijah obeyed and went to the area God indicated and found a woman gathering sticks. She had just enough food to feed her son and herself one meal and die. Elijah asks her to feed him first! He tells her, “Don’t be afraid. God says your flour and oil won’t run out until rain comes.”
Here are some lessons I draw from this story:
* Sometimes God leads us into some uncomfortable and dangerous situations and He doesn’t divulge the escape plan ahead of time. (Elijah had to confront a mean person with real power to harm him.)
* God has provisions beyond our imagination and is not limited by our resources (or lack of). Could you imagine a bird bringing you breakfast?
* To access God’s resources we must do what He says, even if it doesn’t make sense to us. Elijah went to Ahab, to the brook, and approached the widow.
* We must rely on God, not His resources to meet our needs. Don’t panic when your brook dries up, God has a widow in the wings.
* Sometimes God’s provisions are humbling, but a blessing to all who are faithful to Him. Would you like to ask a widow for what she perceives to be her last meal, or depend on ravens to bring you food?
* Fear can hinder our ability to recognize and receive God’s calling and blessing for us. Elijah told the widow “Don’t be afraid.”
The scriptures teach the wisdom of planning and looking ahead. But God doesn’t always show us the provision for His call ahead of time. Maybe we should amend the adage from “Look” to “Listen before you leap.” When our Lord speaks, then we must follow. In what area of your life have you sensed God prompting you to move out of your comfort zone? What resource is drying up that you have been afraid to release? Will you look to God, not His previous provision to meet your needs? What fear is holding you back?
May God grant us the grace to listen and respond daily to our Good Shepherd. It is the best, though sometimes scariest, path we can take! Please pray for our clients who, in following God and resisting evil, are losing the provisions they have known.