Devotions on 1 Kings 19:1-18–Still Small Voice
October 30 – November 5, 2017
Monday, October 30, 2017–Still Small Voice
“Then he was afraid, he got up and fled for his life” (1 Kings 19:3).
Abdul was an Arab Christian living in Iraq with his family. When the United States invaded Iraq, Abdul sided with the Americans and courageously served as an interpreter. For his efforts, he was marked for execution by Al Qaeda. Deciding to face the challenges of life in a new land rather than constant threats from Al Qaeda, Abdul immigrated to the United States.
He built a new life for himself and a family. Abdul refused to cower in the face of anti-Arab sentiment. Believing that God’s Spirit was guiding him, he built up a thriving car wash business. It seemed that nothing could frighten Abdul. Nothing did scare Abdul until, during a routine physical it was discovered that he had prostate cancer. Fear overwhelmed Abdul as it never had before.
It is difficult to understand Elijah’s fear, in a cursory reading of his story. He had just come from a great victory over the prophets of Baal. Jezebel’s threat was real, though. She had the ability to hunt Elijah down and kill him. Even though the Lord had supernaturally consumed the sacrificial offering on Mt. Carmel, Elijah wasn’t sure if God could control Jezebel. Fear overwhelmed Elijah, as it does us, when we question God’s love and power, and forget God’s promised presence.
Move within us, Lord, so that we may courageously serve you secure in your love and grace. Amen.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017–Still Small Voice
“He asked that he might die ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life for I am no better than my ancestors’” (1 King 19:4).
Looking back on the past week, Leo saw only blackness. The week began with his companion of eleven years announcing that he was ending their relationship. Ironically, Leo was also losing his company, for which he had sacrificed his relationship. It was being gobbled up in a hostile take-over by a mega-corp. Though Leo would get paid a ton of money from the take-over, he had lost everything that gave his life meaning. He sat on the edge of his bed with a bottle of scotch in one hand and a container of Oxycontin, in the other trying to find some reason to continue his life.
Many of us have been in situations life Elijah’s and Leo’s. Things have gone horribly wrong. Dreams have been lost. The pain has been too great to bear. For a moment it appeared that death was an easier choice than life.
Elijah asked the Lord do take away his life. God didn’t do it. The God who breathed life into our bodies and souls never takes it away. Instead, the Lord offers life to us in fresh ways. Only at the end of our natural days, when death comes, does the Lord welcome us with open arms.
Knowing that death is the last enemy, Lord, empower us to cherish the life that you give us. Amen.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017–Still Small Voice
“Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, ‘Get up and eat’” (1 Kings 19:5).
Grandma Connors firmly believed that food was the elixir of life. A bowl of her chicken soup would cure any cold. Depression was warded off with a piece of her scrumptious apple pie. Warm chocolate chip cookies and milk overcame any mid-afternoon energy slump. A hot rum toddy calmed nerves, chased away worries and prepared a person for a good night’s sleep.
The Lord’s answer to Elijah’s request that God take his life was to send an angel and command Elijah to “get up and eat.” No words of sympathy were offered, nor were there any empathetic statements like, “I understand what you are going through.” Elijah received a command and also food—the gift of life.
We need to take and eat, especially during those times when we despair of life itself. Accepting the Lord’s invitation to come to the Lord’s Table, we eat the bread and drink the wine. We take time to feast on God’s Word, savor moments of meditation and enjoy a banquet of holy conversation. In doing so, we turn from the darkness and turn toward light and life.
“Fill our cups Lord, we lift them up Lord, come and quench the thirsting of our souls. Bread of Heaven feed us till we want no more. Fill our cups, fill them up and make us whole.” Amen. (“Fill My Cup, Lord” music and lyrics by Richard Blanchard)
Thursday, November 2, 2017–Still Small Voice
“I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 15:10).
Pity parties are the only parties we attend alone. No one else is invited and no one else comes. We want to convince ourselves that we are the only ones who are suffering like we are suffering. Elijah wanted to feel sorry for himself because he believed that he was the ONLY person who was truly following God. (Later God spoiled Elijah’s pity party by informing him that there were several thousand people who were true to the Lord.) While Miguel held his pity party he convinced himself that he was the only gay Latino who was being bullied. Asako told herself that she was the only Christian in her college, when she expressed a Christian belief in science class and no one backed her up.
As followers of Jesus, we are not alone. The Holy Spirit forms us into a community of believers, and we are called to bear one another’s burdens. There may be times when we need to go beyond our immediate Christian community in order to find the type of support group we need. We are, however, never alone.
The Lord challenged Elijah’s thinking and, in the same way, God challenges our thinking when we climb down into our pity party. Our AA brothers and sisters call it “stinkin thinkin.” The Holy Spirit convicts us of this destructive behavior and empowers us to find others like us and the help we need.
Forgive us, Lord, for lying to ourselves. Enable us to see the truth and to act on it. Amen.
Friday, November 3, 2017–Still Small Voice
“After the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake” (1 Kings 19:11).
There have been recently a plethora of natural disasters around the world. Few who experienced the wrath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria would say they encountered God. The people, in Mexico City, who are literally picking up the pieces of buildings caused by the destructive forces of an earthquake are giving glory to god. The thousands of people in California who have lost their homes and everything they owned to wildfires are not singing God’s praises in that destructive fire.
Perhaps it is our connection to our pre-scientific age ancestors that cause us to say that God is seen in the power of nature. Hundreds and thousands of years , people believed that a god poured water through a door in the dome of heaven to make it rain, fertility gods caused the crop harvests to be bountiful, while still others were responsible for the defeat of the nation’s enemies.
We may no longer see God’s power in the destructive forces of nature, but we most certainly witness God’s presence in the aftermath. Thousands of people stood in line to give blood after the carnage in Las Vegas. Everyday heroes risked their lives to save the lives of others or to ease their suffering. People shared and are sharing their financial resources, giving to relief organizations, in order to help the victims of the natural disasters to get back on their feet and start over. God was and is present in the loving, serving, caring and giving.
Lord, use us to show your love and grace to those who are hurting. Amen.
Saturday, November 4, 2017–Still Small Voice
“Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah’” (1 Kings 19:13)?
Gayle Jenkins was constantly asking the students in her classroom to be quiet. Their conversations and comments made it difficult for her to teach the lesson. Abuelo Juarez, who was hearing impaired, turned up the volume on the television so that he could hear. Unfortunately, it was too loud for the rest of the family to converse, so they left their grandfather alone in the room. With earphones plugged into both ears, Akihito listened to his song list, while he commuted. The songs, however, prevented him from hearing the cries for help from a woman who had slipped and had fallen.
The world is becoming an every noisier place. This increase in noise has been termed, “noise pollution.” It affects our physical, mental, social and spiritual health. Even though we are followers of Jesus, many of us complain about God’s silence. Perhaps the problem is not that God refuses to speak to us. It may be that we can’t hear God because of the noise around us. Elijah was in a silent place—the middle of the wilderness—when he heard God ask, “What are you doing here?” Discovering silent places, which can be reached easily, is an important activity in our lives of faith.
Lord, help us to find those quiet places where we can wait for you to speak to us. Then give us a hunger to go there and listen for you. Amen.
Sunday, November 5, 2017–Still Small Voice
“’Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram’” (1 Kings 19:15).
In the age of initials such as IMHO, WTH, ROTFL, LOL BTW, PTL and TTYL, a supervisor placed a sign that read “GBTW” near the coffee maker in the break room. It took a couple of days for the employees to understand its message. When they did, they paid a little more attention to the length of their coffee breaks. The initials stood for “Get Back to Work.”
That was God’s message to Elijah—Get Back to Work. The fear, depression and self-pity wouldn’t go away by sitting alone in a cave waiting for God to do some mighty deed. Action is what would chase away Elijah’s “demons.” Stepping out in faith and trusting in God’s love, presence and power would enable Elijah to once again be the prophet he was called to be.
It works the same way for us as followers of Jesus. The calls we have received from the Lord are daunting and far out of our comfort zones. The world in which we have been called and commissioned to serve is broken, filled with hurting people who need to be loved, listened to and cared for. Like Elijah, we have a choice. We can simply sit and let fear paralyze us, or we can take steps of faith and get back to work.
Lord, thank you for calling us each day to get back to work. Amen.