Many of us are familiar with the story of the great Old Testament prophet, Elijah. Quite a man. He confronted the wicked Queen Jezebel many times – stood for God’s truth and authority at his own risk. Jezebel, with her husband, Ahab, were formidable, powerful, calculating adversaries. They struck terror into the hearts of their opponents. Her name is synonymous with treachery and deceit, even today.
Elijah was God’s kind of “man of faith” – bold, faithful, courageous, human…
Elijah and the prophets of Baal had a face-off on Mt. Carmel. God showed up in a powerful, miraculous way (Read I Kings 18) – one of my favorite Bible stories! All the evil manipulation, politics, personalities, power are no match for God as God revealed Himself as the One True God. God’s victory was manifest that day in a spectacular way.
Right after God had used him to trounce the evil prophets, Jezebel threatens, as she was want to do! Elijah became afraid. From our vantage today – since we know the “rest of the story” we can be cynical of Elijah’s weakness and easily ask, “But why fear, Elijah. You just participated in a great victory. God showed up. He will again.” Think about it…he was human. What would you do? He was exhausted. He was spent in ministry for God. There was a bullseye on his back. He was afraid of Jezebel and he ran.
I am sure I would have too. Probably from your own experience you know we don’t usually go from mountaintop to mountaintop. From my father’s front porch you can see several ranges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It looks like it is all mountaintop – what we can’t see are the many valleys in between.
On that morning, Elijah couldn’t either. He was vulnerable. Did God criticize him? Condemn him? Reject him? No. God came to him.
God recently showed me in this passage that God came to Elijah while Elijah was sleeping, resting. Too many of us think we have to work nonstop for God. The busier we are the more value we have. The dark circles under our eyes are badges of courage. Folks, there is no crown laid up for exhaustion.
If we take time to rest we won’t miss God. He won’t forget us. He’ll come get us!
Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…” That’s a command. He doesn’t condemn rest – far from it. He provides it.
Have you ever been depressed? Low? Lower than a “lizard’s belt buckle”, as my mother used to say. “Cast down”, as King David said in Psalm 42.
David wrote he cried day and night while men taunted him. He thought back to the good times which made him feel worse. He uses the word, “disturbed” – his usual joy and peace were in shambles.
If we are honest, think we all experience such times,. We live in a fallen world with evidence of that reality all around us as a passenger jetliner is shot out of the sky by a missile, as war looms in the Middle East, fires rage out West, refugees flee, flood waters rise, children are abused, evil seems to be willing… It’s tough out there and getting tougher day by day. It is so easy to feel despair these days – to feel powerless and get angry.
As we go through the dark times we long for God to come deliver us as David did when he wrote, “My soul pants for you, O God..my soul thirsts for God…when can I go and meet with God?” Perhaps you, too, have felt like David. He wanted a meeting with God to sort it out! He wanted God Himself.
David poured out his heart to God – not his neighbor, friends, therapist, spouse – but to God. No substitute. (I am not saying that having a neighbor, friends, therapist, spouse to talk to isn’t important – far from it – God gave us fellow human beings to helps us. He placed us in communities for a reason.)
But usually we sort of stop there talking to others seeking their advice and opinions. And just maybe when all else fails we might talk to God as a last resort. Not David. He went to God first and poured out his heart. He complained freely, boldly – he told God just how he felt!
Then he told himself to place his hope in God and determined to praise Him as his Savior and his God. (Notice the personal pronouns – his Savior and his God.) When David is feeling low he decides to remember God.
How many times when we are low, depressed and angry do we throw God into the mix and get mad at Him, too? Or act like a petulant child and decide we just won’t talk to God anymore? So there! Oh, yes, there are times when David acts like a child. David vents his anger and frustration towards God – God can handle it. He is much bigger than all of it and there is nothing we can say He hasn’t heard before. He is the safest One to talk to. David tells God exactly how he feels.
But he doesn’t stop there. He makes a decision. A decision to hope and praise – an act of the will. I doubt seriously if David felt like hoping or praising. Maybe he wanted to wallow in self-pity, or kill someone, run away, hide, get drunk… But he decided to hope and praise. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It is confident expectation. Praise isn’t just saying ‘thank you”. It is worship.
That was David’s way out of despair. It is our way out too.
Despair or hope? Praise or complaint? Fear or peace? It’s our choice.
Last Saturday night, my little town did its fireworks – we do them the week after the 4th. As I crawled into bed, I could hear all the booms and see the glow from the explosions in the distance. Of course, I couldn’t help but think of those in war-torn areas of he world.
I remember being in Sarajevo shortly after the Bosnian war. The destruction was massive and the stories of what people endured broke my heart. The city was completely cut off – surrounded by Serbs so that the Bosnians, to survive, had to tunnel under the airport as a route to get supplies into the city. A tiny tunnel over a mile long was all that connected them to the outside world as gunfire and rockets rained down on the city.
Though there was a peace agreement, I could hear gunfire from my hotel room. Not a good feeling. I thought about all the mothers who tried to comfort frightened children…night after night, month after month, year after year. We are so blessed to live in a country that has only know one war on our shores – The War Between the States. it was a bloody war. At the battle of Gettysburg alone, 51,112 died! Unimaginable!
My thoughts are triggered by the conflict between Israel and Gaza. The Palestinians started the conflict and Israel hit back hard and fast – as they have done, historically . On our TV news we see the missiles racing through the night sky and hear the loud boom as it hits its target. The smoke. The fire. The missiles go both ways: from Israel to Gaza and from Gaza to Israel. Creating destruction.
As reported by the media Israel has the most sophisticated defense system in the world: “The Iron Dome”. It detects incoming missiles, targets them and shoots them down before they reach Israel. The Israeli fatalities are lower because of the Iron Dome. The Palestinian casualties are higher since they use human shields.
We can apply that spiritually. We are in a war. We have a clever enemy who prowls around our lives plotting against us, creating destruction. He knows our weak spots, knows where we live and hates us. He is out to destroy our very soul. However, we have access to the most sophisticated defense system in the universe – God Himself. He knows the enemy’s tactics well and has already defeated him.
Almighty God is stronger and safer than the enemy and the Iron Dome! We can be secure in Him. Or try our own human defense. If we rely on God there may be temporary destruction but we have the assurance nothing can destroy our soul. If we use our own, human resources there will be destruction in our lives and ultimately our eternal souls.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Ps.91:1)
“Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.” (Isaiah 30:3)
We dare not trust in our “Egypts”but totally trust our “God dome”.
There is a lot of talk about the immigration issue and the situation on our Southern border. But I have not heard anyone mention that having all these unaccompanied children in our border states and beyond is a real dream come true for pedophiles and sex-traffickers. Strangers are allowed to step forward claim to be a relative and take the children…
This is horrifying! This s a humanitarian crisis of huge proportions. We need to start screaming! On behalf of these children who are pawns. Where are the churches? Where am I? Jesus loves these children. He died for them. And the people using them need the Gospel.
What parent would put their child in such a situation? A desperate one. What politician uses a child for political gain? An evil one. What people stand by and do nothing? An overwhelmed people.
There is so much coming at us at once – like the flood gates opened up – we can hardly process it all. There is this crisis. The 27/7 news broadcasts. The Middle East is on the brink – Syria, Iraq. Terrorism threats. Sharia law saying they will reinstate crucifixion. Food prices soaring. Hideous division like racism. Storms. Floods. Breakdown of authority. Homes falling apart. Moral values sneered at. All this – and more – coming at once. We do feel overwhelmed.
I remind myself daily that God is still on the throne. But we are His hands and feet.
I believe we need to attend to these children. Clean them, feed them then send them home and let their families have them back. Then if they want to come to our country, there are LEGAL processes in place to do that. I am not sure when our thinking became so muddled over this issue. Illegal is still illegal. I may be dense but what is the question there?
We have a proud and noble history of welcoming others to our bountiful land. However, it is being trashed by political correctness, inclusiveness and tolerance. Near my home today is a magnificent naturalization ceremony at the beautiful home or Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd President and writer of the Declaration of Independence. It is a grand occasion, greatly celebrated. As it should be. All of us, except for our Native American friends, were immigrants.
I am speaking as a proud American that wants to protect our borders and be the unique, great county that has lead the world in every area – good and bad.
I also must speak as a Christ-follower. God was big on borders as He was plotting out Israel’s territory. The New Testament speaks of keeping the laws of the land. Jesus also knew boundaries. But He loved the children. “If you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.” We cannot stand by and let these children be used…by pedophiles, politicians, terrorists, our own government.
Ask God what you should do? Reply with any suggestions you may have.
And please pray.
Update! Save the Children is on our borders helping the children – go to their website and read and donate. They also have a presence in the home countries trying to effect changes there.