May 22, 2024

In 2024, we will strive to become more like Jesus by rediscovering the ancient practices of prayer, study, sabbath, celebration, and many more. Our knowledge of scripture, coupled with studying how Jesus lived his life while on earth, will help us become people that overflow with the goodness of God. Wednesday email devotionals will highlight the practices that have been discussed on the previous Sunday.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.


All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.


The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.


And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”


He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”


The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”


Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.


1 Kings 19:3-13


Elijah had just had one of the high points of his life. In front of an awed crowd, he had called down fire from God upon the Lord’s enemies. He had achieved the complete humiliation and death of the prophets of Ba’al who belonged to Queen Jezebel. Elijah had had the most amazing vindication and proof that he was a true prophet of God. He should have been on a spiritual high like no other.


But instead, Elijah was afraid and depressed: afraid that Jezebel would kill him, which she vowed to do; depressed because he felt there was a target on his head.


From a great spiritual high to a terrible low point, Elijah was now alone in the wilderness. (The wilderness or desert in the Bible is a place of great meaning: there is spiritual and physical privation, thirst and hunger, but there is also quiet, solitude and time to think, all as God is present, though often unknown.)


So Elijah was alone, but God was close. (Are we ever truly alone?) God sent an angel to bring him water and food. He slept and rested as the angel ministered to him. He traveled on the strength of God’s provision for him to the mountain of God, Mt. Horeb. There Elijah stayed alone in a cave, where the Lord spoke to him, while the prophet replied with further complaints.


And then God invited Elijah to experience an honor that only Moses had had: he invited Elijah to stand out on the mountain, for “the Lord is about to pass by.” Then Elijah experienced a great wind, an earthquake and a fire, but the Lord was not in these. Finally, a sound of sheer silence enveloped Elijah, and the Lord was in the silence.


Where did Elijah find God? Did he find God at that triumphant high point? Or did he find God when he was all alone, anxious, depressed, hungry, and thirsty? God was there in his fear and loneliness, watching over him, supplying his needs simply but effectively. Elijah rested; he slept; he ate and drank. God listened to his blue yodels but redirected him to his presence in the sheer silence. Then God redirected him to action.


This story speaks to me now, because I have a small physical issue that is driving me nuts. It occupies too much time in my thoughts. I got very anxious and obsessive over this. I prayed my blue yodel over and over, asking God for help. And God ministered to me by sending me someone to care for. It’s as though God said to me, “I think it would be good for you to take care of someone else and get your mind off yourself.” He sent me a little family of four, who were here in Georgia to adopt a newborn. I realized after one wonderful day with them that I hadn’t thought about my stupid tooth even once. God helped me to reorient my thinking off myself, which was doing no one any good, and into my calling, which is a joy to me, and, I think, to others too.


Ever since that reorientation, I’ve been using solitude and silence to think about the way God cares for me. If you pass me when I’m driving, you may see me smiling and saying, “Thank you, Lord, for caring for me.” God always comes close in the silence and solitude. God sees and knows and loves us.

For Reflection

Did Elijah have a plan to find God as he ran away from Jezebel? Or did God find him on the way?


Was God aware that Elijah had both physical and spiritual needs?


Where and when can you make space for silence and solitude?


Dear Lord, you listen to me even when I’m nothing but a sad wreck of a complainer. You listen to me; you care for me in physical and spiritual ways. You help me to know that you are near, that you know me, that you care for me, that you are there in the silence and the alone-time. Lord, use my time in silence with you to refresh and renew and re-orient me. I believe you can do this.  In trust and love, I am praying expectantly.  AMEN.

Rev. Vicki Franch
Pastor for Pastoral Care