Have you ever done something, and then thought to yourself “Oh Wow! What have done? Oh! What are people going to think? What is going to happen next? Why on Earth did I do that?”
Well that is exactly what Elijah is thinking as we consider today’s prayer. If you missed yesterday’s prayer and video, stop for a few minutes and go back and catch up.
God has just performed an incredible miracle through the prophet Elijah, fire has been called from heaven and a 3 year drought has ended, 450 prophets of the false god Baal have been executed and the nation of Israel has turned back to God, worshipping God as their only God. But Jezebel, the King’s wife is a passionate disciple of Baal. She has been killing the Lord’s prophets and after hearing what Elijah had done, she threatens to find and kill Elijah too.
Elijah is filled with fear and basically runs away. He runs until he can run no more. He still believes that he is the only one of God’s prophets left. I imagine that he is confused too and wondering what all that miracle was about earlier in the day if nothing had really changed and he is still not free to serve the Lord openly. A day later, he sits down and prays to God. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ He cannot understand why he is alive and all of his fellow prophets are dead.
It is curious that Elijah has run away from Jezebel after she threatened to kill him and now asks God to take his life? He is exhausted, crashing hard after an exhilarating and stressful few days and, still believing that he is the only prophet left, he is without hope.
Elijah falls asleep. He needs rest, and food and God provides both.
I think Elijah has taken his eyes off God and now has his eyes firmly focussed on his own situation and his own abilities.
Surely the God who has just humiliated the prophets of Baal, who has caused a nation to stand in awe and wonder, who has ended a 3 year drought, can keep Elijah safe from Jezebel.
Elijah has taken his eyes off God but God has his eyes on Elijah. In focussing on his own situation Elijah feels overwhelmed and alone. But because God has his eyes on Elijah, God provides what Elijah needs in terms of rest and food. And of course God has a bigger plan, one that Elijah misses because he is looking in the wrong direction.
This showdown on the mountain was the start of something bigger. God had a plan for Elijah to anoint new kings in the region and even a successor for Elijah himself. And Let’s not forget that, as we heard yesterday, there were 100 of the Lord’s prophets hiding out in a cave.
If you read on a few verses in Chapter 19 you will see that Elijah travels across the desert for 40 days and nights, this really means that he spent a long time in reflection. He ends up in a cave himself where God addresses him directly asking “What are you doing here?” In other words, what are you doing all the way over here when you are needed over there? Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get going!
I think God has a plan for every one of us but we can only live up to that plan when we have our eyes fixed on Him. When we take our eyes off God and focus on our own abilities and our own hopeless situation we end up exhausted, stressed and wandering about in the desert.
Tonight, where are you and I focussed? Is it on our own abilities and our own situation, however hopeless it may be or are we focussed on the God who does spectacular miracles, who causes nations to stand in awe, who sends rain after the drought and who provides food and rest for the weary?
Is God saying to you “What are you doing here, when you are needed over there?”
Tonight, let’s refocus our attention in the direction of God.