Anyone who has ever dealt with an exhausted toddler or a hormonal 5th grade girl knows there are several ways to handle it when their emotions get out of control. And boy howdy, hormones exaggerate everything! One of those is to distract and redirect. Get their attention away from the thing causing them distress, such as the little boy who just took their favorite toy or the girl at school that just rejected them, and redirect their attention to something completely different. God uses the old distract and redirect method on Elijah, and now Elijah has a choice…
When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came…So Elijah went…(Excerpt I Kings 19)
Anyone who has ever dealt with an exhausted toddler or a hormonal 5th grade girl knows there are several ways to handle it when their emotions get out of control. And boy howdy, hormones exaggerate everything! One of those is to distract and redirect. Get their attention away from the thing causing them distress, such as the little boy who just took their favorite toy or the girl at school that just rejected them, and redirect their attention to something completely different.
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. Why? Someone threatened to kill him. I might be afraid too! Elijah just had some amazing victories. There was the confrontation on Mt. Carmel where God consumed the sacrifice with fire. He prayed for the rain at the end of a drought and God sent a huge rainstorm on the land. Victories! He saw amazing miracles and answers to prayer, but he wasn’t quite ready to trust God to protect him from Jezebel. Ever been there?
Elijah was afraid. He was tired. He felt like he was all alone. So angels came to feed him, and he ran for 40 days and 40 nights until he got to the mountain of God. He must have stewed and stewed on the fear that whole time because when God asked him what was the matter, it all spewed out. “I’m serving You God. I’m all alone. And now they are after me and trying to kill me. Why are You letting this happen to me? Just kill me now!”
I love it here that God does not respond to his desperation. He doesn’t even calm and comfort him by saying, “I’m here Elijah! I’m with you. You have nothing to fear. I will avenge them for you!” No….he doesn’t calm or comfort him. He uses the old distract and redirect method. He gives him something else to focus on…a directive. “Go back the way you came…” (He does throw in at the end that there are 7,000 people who have not bowed their knee to Baal. Elijah was not as alone as he thought.)
What? Go back??? I’m sure that was NOT the answer Elijah was looking for. I think he wanted soothed. Wouldn’t you? But…the Word of the Lord came, and now he had a choice. He could obey it and trust that God would protect him, or he could walk away.
Elijah chose to trust God and go back the way he came. Jezebel still wanted to kill him. They were still after him. Nothing that he could see had changed. But he had a purpose to focus on now. The Word of God came, and that was enough. He trusted God. He trusted the Word. And if God said it, that was enough. He would go. He would obey.
There are times that we are facing things in our life, and we get weary and we get tired and we want to just let go of the promise. It’s hard to trust – even though God has moved for us in the past – even though we have experienced the power of God and miracles before. But we are tired now, and it’s hard to hold on.
We have a choice, just like Elijah did. We can stop. We can quit. We can run away OR we can run to the mountain of God. We can pour out our hearts before Him. We can hear the Word of the Lord, and we can trust that He will do what He said He will do. We can focus on His Word instead of the problem.
Let’s not give up. Let’s not let go. Let’s press into Him and trust His Word. He is faithful. His Word is truth, and He will perform it for us!
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Isaiah 55:10-11 Message)