Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Help (02/20/06)
TITLE: What Are You Doing Here?
By Stacey Kitchens
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1 Kings 19:1-18
Did you ever wonder how you ended up in some of the deserts of your life? I have. I think, “only yesterday I never would have dreamed I would be in this dry and barren place, despairing of life.” Things are moving along well, battles are won, the Lord’s power is experienced in magnificent proportions, and all of a sudden fear takes over, and I’m running for my life.
Elijah had just fearlessly taken on the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, declaring the Lord’s power before them. And the Lord came through for him in a big way, I might add! As the Lord God showed Himself to be the only true God, awesome and mighty, the prophets of Baal were disgraced and killed with the sword at Elijah’s hand. (chapter 18) Now, a threat from one woman, Jezebel, sends him running for his life. How did Elijah get from the mountaintop to the desert, and where is God in all of this?
We catch up to Elijah out in the desert under a broom tree praying for the Lord to take his life. There are times in our lives when we cry out to the Lord as Elijah, “I have had enough.” Thankfully, we don’t see the Lord scolding him or telling him to get his tail back out there and fight. So patiently, God begins to minister to him through a divine messenger who bakes him an “angel food” cake. See, the Lord knew what Elijah needed and that “the journey was too much” for him, so he fed him and allowed him to rest until it was time to reveal Himself in a new way. Finally, as Elijah continues on his way, he ends up in a cave atop Horeb, the mountain of God. There, the Lord asks him a very interesting question, “What are you doing here?” Elijah went on to woefully explain how he was the only one left and next on the hit list. This seemed to set off a series of dramatic events – a great and powerful wind, then an earthquake, followed up with fire. Yet, the Lord was not in any of these things, but a “gentle whisper.” What was God trying to say to this plaintive prophet as he repeated the question to Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Maybe he was trying to show him that He was in the small things, not only the great miracles and consuming fire. Maybe he wanted Elijah to know that He was in “still small voices” and angel food cake, the ordinary things of life, not only the spectacular firestorms. Elijah, still slow to understand, could come up with no better answer than before. But, in essence, God told him that things were not as they appeared to be. He was not alone. Not only was God in every little detail of his desert, but if he would just “go back the way he came,” help was waiting. In fact, there were many left, not just him. God gave him specific answers to his need - Hazael and Jehu to fight for him and Elisha to become his companion and successor. God fully met his need.
Even in the midst of despair, He has a plan. Listen to His gentle whisper… “What are you doing here? I have not left you helpless or alone in the fight. Go back the way you came.”
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11 NIV)
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