Friday, June 12, 2015

under the broom tree

And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”
1 Kings 19:5

Elijah was in a ministry funk. And after 27 years of pastoral work, I can tell you, I know what it is like to be there from time to time. Elijah entered the prophetic scene boldly. He declared a drought to Ahab, then fled to the brook Cherith, later to the home of a barely sustained widow. And in both places God supernaturally provided for him. After confronting and killing the prophets of Baal at Carmel, Elijah is told he is wanted dead by the crown. And rather than see this as a faith and trust in God moment, Elijah "boldly" flees to the wilderness again. And under the shade of a broom tree he prays for God to end his life.

God heard the prophet's despairing prayer, but chose to respond to it quietly and deliberately over a rather long period of time. As Elijah slept in his depression (probably curled up in fetal defeat under the broom tree), an angel came and ministered to the suffering prophet. Elijah awakes to find a meal prepared by angel hands. After a coupld of short naps and some more snacks from his angelic chef, Elijah is sent on a forty day journey to Horeb, where he woulld have an extended encounter with God.

It was there that Elijah found God, not in an earthquake, fire, or fierce wind, but in the holy, unsettling encounter of a low quiet whisper. And God reassured him that he was not alone in the struggle against evil and idolatry that comprised the rule of Ahab and Jezebel. God could use Elijah as well as seven thousand more who were faithful to Him.

The process wherein Elijah moved from despair to faith was at least a forty day season and probably more. He journeyed to Beersheba and the wilderness. He traveled forty days to Horeb, and there he encountered God in a way that reinstated his courageous faith. For every moment we sit under the broom tree, God is preparing to lead us to Horeb and His low whisper. It just takes time to get there.

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