Sunday, November 5
Through the Fear
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Not to sound too judgmental, but Elijah sounds a little like a whining child. He lopes out to the wilderness to end his own life because Jezebel has threatened to kill him. (Does that even make any sense?) Then he complains to the Lord that, “I alone am left,” even though God promises to save the “seven thousand in Israel” who remain faithful to God. He complains at the mountaintop, and when he doesn’t get the answer he wants, he waits through a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire. He then complains the same complaint, hoping for someone to indulge his whining and tell him he’s right. Instead, the Lord sends him back out to finish the work God has laid out for him. There will be no coddling for Elijah.
God, on the other hand, is patient and encouraging. God does not come at Elijah like an upset parent, an angry storm of wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, God comes with a whisper that breaks the sheer silence surrounding a worn out Elijah. Although God knows the answer, God gives Elijah the chance to get it all out, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God hears him out. God picks him up, brushes him off, looks him square in the face, and gives him a solid direction, one that shakes Elijah out of his self-pity and back to his resolve to do as God asks. Sometimes the best way to redirect a temper tantrum is to give that energy a new purpose.
Years ago, I had a terrible accident with my then 3-year-old baby boy. I accidentally slammed his finger into the hinge of an industrial van’s side door. Due to his screaming and uncontrollable bleeding, we decided to take him to the hospital. As I set him back in the car seat I checked the van door’s hinge to see where I might have caught his finger. I opened the door and my baby’s fingertip fell into my palm. Now I was screaming and crying all the way to the emergency room. In the ER, I continued to scream and cry until a nurse took me by the shoulders, looked straight into my eyes, and said firmly, “You are not helping him. You need to keep calm.” Immediately I felt the panic slip away and I was able to refocus on the task at hand – being a calming presence to a very scared little boy. My boy is 18 now and has all 10 fingers. I will never forget the moment I realized that the best way to alleviate fear is to run straight at it with a purpose. When God calls, there is nearly always fear. But we can run at it with purpose and resolve, running through the fear toward the end goal. God will hold us by the shoulders, look us straight in the eye, and speak with words of comfort and courage.
Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Kings 19:1-18
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again.The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”