Our daughter, Elise, was born into this world on September 22, 1986, weighing a healthy 8 lbs. 10 oz., holding a pom pom. Her years of cheering did not begin when she was a freshman in high school. They began in the beginning. I can hardly remember a time when she was not excited or happy about something (except for the time I “showed” her how to vacuum the proper way. Sorry, honey, I was a little over the top that day.) She has won the hearts of many with her unique ability to cheer you up when you are down and to cheer you on in life’s disappointments. Even at a very young age, her smile alone would bring cheers. So it was no surprise to me that the one “sport” she would do in high school was what she already did so naturally, become a cheerleader. I’m not really sure why I shared all of that with you except that I remembered something about those cheerleading days today and it struck me funny. Every time one of the cheerleaders was going to begin a new cheer, in order to get the attention of the other cheerleaders and the crowd, they would say, “Ready, Ok!” Those two words broke the spell of boredom and fired up the next chant.
Today, for the first ever do-votion posted on this blog, I want to say a hearty, “Ready, Ok!” I think this will be fun. I pray it will mean something to someone. But, if nothing else, it will give me an opportunity to practice doing something I love. Join me now as we look at one of my favorite Bible characters, Elijah.
Please read: I Kings 19:1-14
Children all around the world, in one version or another, know how to play the game of Hide and Seek. When you are young and the game is just for fun, all is well, but sometimes in life the game of “hide and seek” is not so enjoyable. Today as you have read in I Kings 19, Elijah was on the run, trying to hide from the not so pleasant seeker, Jezebel. She was out to get him, ready to kill, no mercy. Elijah had ruffled her feathers and she did not like it one bit. Even though Elijah had seen God perform some great miracles (to learn about those miracles, read I Kings 17 and 18), when faced with threats from Jezebel, he took to running. There is something to glean from the actions and behaviors of Elijah. One thing I love more than anything with God’s Word is the pertinence of a story written hundreds of years ago to the day and age we live in. Just like Solomon said “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9)
As we look at this passage of Scripture today, we will see three concepts applicable to our lives as we watch Elijah’s game of hide and seek play out before us.
I. When our emotions are controlled by fear, we tend to run and hide.
Please re-read verse 3 and fill in the blanks.
“Elijah was __________ and ____________ for his life.”
I have never had to run and escape from someone who is trying to kill me, but I do know what it is like to run and hide from other kinds of fear. The strange thing about fear is that what makes one person afraid doesn’t necessarily affect another in the same way. That is the way it is with my husband and myself. I definitely process things differently than he does and as a result I deal with a lot more fear.
A few years ago, I was faced with a very difficult situation. I had dealt with this problem for a very long time and I was just plum sick of it and tired too. One particular day, the difficult situation turned into disaster. I was so afraid of the out coming circumstances, that I wanted to hide, literally. I locked all my doors, turned off the phones, and went to my basement. My emotions had clearly gotten the best of me.
I think Elijah felt a lot like this the day he took off running from Jezebel, only on a much grander scale. He was tired. His emotions were weakened from pure exhaustion and fear had a free for all in his life. I mean after all that Elijah had seen God do through him, how could he be afraid of anything? In fact, 1 Kings 18:46 states the power of God came upon Elijah so great that he was able to outrun Ahab, who was riding in a chariot. Do you not find this so comical? Elijah, in the power of God, outruns on foot a chariot only to turn and run in fear from Jezebel. What it tells me about fear is this: left to our own demise, without the power of God in our lives, running and hiding seems like the only option.
What do you do when you have a sense of dread or fear something in your life?
Most of you probably have never locked yourself in your house and hid in the basement but what about other ways we “hide?” What about ignoring the problem, pretending the issue doesn’t exist, or redirecting our thoughts so we don’t have to think about it for now?
Read chapter 19:4. What did Elijah say to the Lord?
“________ ____________ _________ ______________.”
As it was with Elijah, some of us have battled something so long that honestly we can declare as Elijah did, “I have had enough, Lord.” In a weakened state of mind, we may even say with Elijah, “Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors.” That my friend, is not the place we want to be.
II. Listening to the wrong voice invokes fear.
Please read the following verse from 19:2 -
“So, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say….”
I realize I am going backward in the passage, but I wanted you to see how this all began. Isn’t this interesting? Elijah hears the message from Jezebel and fear takes over. Again and again in my life, if I am not careful, I will allow the voice of one, who does not have my best interests at heart, to wreak havoc in me. Truth be known, most of the time, my fear and probably your fear too, begins by listening to the lies of the “Jezebel” in our lives. We must never underestimate the danger in allowing our thought processes to be redirected by the wrong voice. Satan loves to blow things completely out of proportion causing us to react in ways we despise.
How do you react when your thoughts get away from you?
We become so vulnerable to fear and many other erratic emotions if we do not take our thoughts captive as I Corinthians 10:5 tells us to. Make them obedient to Christ, right from the get go. Today when I woke up I knew that I was already simmering with some unresolved issues and if left unchecked, by noon, they would be full blown. I want us to remember that in the thick of our emotions, we must declare God’s truth. It is our only survival. Speak those words of Truth out loud and denounce the lies. That's what I did in my basement. I fell to my knees, hidden from the rest of the world and spoke every truth I knew over my life from the Voice of Truth Himself.
Be keenly aware of who you are listening to when you are going through a difficult time. Take the time to plaster your mind with Scripture that speaks truth and speak it out loud over your life because when your soul is weary with sorrow, He will strengthen you according to His Word. (Psalm 119:28)
III. Fear gives us the sense of alone-ness and keeps us from moving on with God.
After being fed by the angel and given enough food for his 40 day journey, Elijah goes to Mt. Horeb. He again hides himself in a cave but this time his seeker isn't Jezebel, it is God Himself.
What question does God ask Elijah? (vs. 9)
Many ideas go through my mind when I think about why God asked Elijah this question. I just wonder, did the angel of the Lord give Elijah different directions to follow when he fed him for the journey? The reason I wonder this is because in verse 15, God is saying to Elijah, "go back the way you came and go to the Desert of Damascus." Out of curiousity, I looked on the map for the area of Damascus. Did you know that it is about as far North from the place Elijah slept under the broom tree as Mt. Horeb was South? In other words, Elijah would be traveling twice as far now to get to the location God wanted him to go. It reminds me a little of our friend Jonah. And frankly, maybe a little like myself.
Fear can really do a number on us and Elijah responded accordingly. He sought a place to hide that was not anywhere near people. It is so easy when, you are dealing with an issue that does not sit well with you and gives you a sense of uneasiness, to isolate yourself. I'm pretty sure Elijah had just had enough of being in tough spots and sought a place of refuge. Just like I did when I went to my basement. I just wanted to be alone because I was afraid to face the issue at hand. A couple of reminders for you when fear is taking hold....1) Let the truth be the voice you listen to, and 2)Don't try to handle everything alone. First and foremost, cry out to God and don't shut yourself in.
Finally, we will really miss something here if we do not see the compassion of God in this passage. God poses the question to Elijah, "What are you doing here?" and then allows Elijah to respond honestly. God tells Elijah to "go out and stand on the mountain in the presence fo the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then comes the wind that tears the mountains apart, then an earthquake, then fire but the Lord is not in any of these. Finally, Elijah hears a gentle whisper and then "pulls his cloak over his face and went out to the mouth of the cave." Wasn't Elijah suppose to be on top of the mountain already? It comes as no surprise then when God says to Elijah, again, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Obviously, inside the cave is not where God wanted Elijah to be. For whatever reason, Elijah was unable to go where God had said to go. Probably do to fear since he responds again to God's question by saying "I have been zealous for you, all the prophets are dead, I am all alone, and they want to kill me." (vs. 14, paraphrased)
The gentle whisper of God is so full of compassion. God understands and knows when we are afraid, discouraged, or needing to isolate ourselves as a way of protection. He knew Elijah was struggling and he was gentle with him, just as he is with you and me. Fear can do a lot but when we are certain of God's presence and sure of his love, following his direction to "go" is a lot easier. I think Elijah just needed a little one on one encouraging and God is always willing to meet us where we need him most.
Even when you hide, God will seek for you.