I shouldn’t be here, hiding under this stupid broom tree.
I can’t do this anymore, Yahweh.
I’ve spent three years being stalked by the shadow of death, whether from the wicked king and queen of Israel or the drought and famine brought on by their abandonment of You, Yahweh.
I OBEYED You and prophesied the drought was coming. In my ensuing time at the Wadi Kidron and with the widow of Zarephath, You brought me to know You.
I OBEYED You as You revealed Yourself to be the one true God of Israel,
defeating the prophets of Baal.
I OBEYED You, announcing the return of the rain to the land.
Yahweh, we have come so far together, You and I. I expected You to remove King Ahab and Queen Jezebel from power in an act of final victory. Instead, Jezebel has unleashed her fury, swearing to end my life. (1 Kings 19:1-2)
My hope has been crushed; I can no longer walk among the land of the living. “I have had enough!” I wail to the cloud-laden heavens. Collapsing into the dust, I murmur a final prayer of despair. “LORD, take my life, for I’m no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4-5) I am wearied and worn. Let me sleep and not wake up.
I feel something shaking me, but I don’t have the energy to open my eyes. A calm voice pierces my malaise. “Get up and eat.” (1 Kings 19:5) As I rub the crust from my eyes, I take in the scene before me. An angelic figure stoops before a gently glowing fire. There is a jar of clear water I immediately reach for to ease my parched throat. To my surprise it is cold and refreshing! And a fluffy warm cake beckons me from the fire’s stones.
But I’m still tired and sadness still grips my soul. The angelic figure radiates peace, and I lay down again to rest.
“Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” (1 Kings 19:7) My angelic visitor has prepared another meal, then taken a seat by the crackling fire. As I sit beside him, I am cooled by a lingering breeze.
Feeling rested and revived from the food, sleep, and the angel messenger, I gather myself and begin walking. I need help, encouragement. My purpose seems to have been swept away. The heaviness of loneliness and, dare I, the prophet Elijah who called down fire from Heaven, say it aloud, am shot through with fear. I’m not sure where I’m headed, but I know my angelic visitor had been intentionally sent to revive me for the path my feet will tread.
Forty days and nights later, I find a cave on the mountainside.
The place Moses met with Yahweh.
The mountain that had once quaked and smoked with the presence of the Lord as He gave His law to us. My soul trembles within me as my wearied and worn body climbs the cliffs, desperately looking for hope. I can’t stop the tears from running down my beard or the sobs from shaking my shoulders as I am plagued by the extreme ways Israel ravages the relationship with Yahweh represented by that covenant law. How wicked Israel’s rebellion! How ineffective I feel against such darkness. The weight of failure threatens to bury me alive. Anxious, I huddle far from the entrance to the cave, lest I attract dangerous attention. I am exhausted and confused; does Yahweh still see me?
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9)
I recognize the quiet voice that has directed me along every step of the last three years.
Peace floods as familiarity embraces me, strengthening me.
All of my questions and fears come tumbling out.
“I have been very zealous for the LORD God of Armies, but the Israelites have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.” (1 Kings 19:10)
It is a relief to finally get the words out. Yahweh responds, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD’s presence.” (1 Kings 19:11)
A fierce wind streams into the cave and I cling to the craggy walls. Massive rocks are ripping out of the mountain and breaking into pieces at the cave’s mouth.
But the wind subsides, and Yahweh is not there.
I’m confused and just as I recover, an earthquake hits, dropping me to my hands and knees. Fear grips me as the mountain shakes around me.
But the movement of the Earth subsides, and Yahweh is not there.
A blazing fire appears at the mouth of the cave, burning with such intensity that no creature could come near. Even a distance away, the heat saps my remaining strength.
But the fire fades away, and Yahweh is not there.
Finally, a soft whisper reaches my ears.
I wrap my face into my cloak and make my way to the entrance of the cave.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13)
Though I see no one, I feel His presence and repeat my answer.
But this time, instead of self-righteous indignation and a thinly-veiled challenge to DO SOMETHING, my words are laced with a deep assurance of Yahweh’s sustaining power.
He has sustained me, a follower of the true God, in a wicked time.
He has sustained me through drought and famine.
He has sustained me through a stunning revelation of His holy jealousy over His children.
And yes, He has sustained me as I flee, yet again, for my life.
As Yahweh directs me to anoint a new generation of kings and prophets who are devoted to Him, I realize I have never been alone. Yahweh has been working out His plan all along.
Two weeks later, I arrive in Abel-meholah, and find a young man named Elisha plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. I walk into the rain-soaked, muddy fields and cast my cloak onto the young man’s shoulders.
Sketched XI, Day 12
I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord. I am the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
I call you by your name, for the sake of my servant Jacob and Israel my chosen one. I give a name to you, though you do not know me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God but me. I will strengthen you, though you do not know me,
so that all may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is no one but me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.
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