Wednesday, March 27, 2019 -
Being in prison is a mixed bag. I get regular meals, which I don’t even have to prepare, a warm room (and my unit is even air-conditioned in the summer). I have a place to walk and exercise, and all the time to rest, study God’s Word, lay around on my cot, pray, write, and read. It cost me a whole lot for this sabbatical!
The downside is that I don’t get to see my wife often, or sleep in the same bed beside her. I would much prefer to take my sabbatical with my wife somewhere on a remote beach. I can’t go out and wander around when I want, or even go down to the local store or go to visit my ailing mother. What’s more, I am here because I am accused of being a criminal for doing a good deed that wasn’t breaking any laws. And when I think of the fact that God hasn’t yet chosen to vindicate me in the eyes of the world, it can get me discouraged.
But then God reminds me of all the great things He’s done in my life – the miracles, the blessings, the deliverances from certain harm and even death – on multiple occasions! God is good. And so, I must be patient and wait on His perfect timing. He has promised me multiple times to deliver me from this travail, that He would get the victory – but only in His perfect timing. So I must persevere in patience and use this time I have wisely for His glory and His purpose.
Today I read the account of Elijah in I Kings 17- II Kings 2. There are a lot of lessons here for me – and each one of us!
Elijah, too, became very discouraged – even to the point of self-pity. He spent time hiding in the wilderness and hiding out in caves. In a way, he became burned out and had the classic symptoms. Yet all of this was after God revealed Himself to Elijah in some amazing ways! God sent Elijah into hiding by the brook Cherith, where “unclean” ravens fed him bread and meat, just as God said they would. Then God sent him to Zarephath, where the widow’s bowl of flour and jar of oil constantly replenished themselves through the hand of God. And God used Elijah to bring resurrection life to the widow’s child in whose home he resided. Elijah all during this multi-year period was hiding from King Ahab, to whom God told him to predict this three-year famine.
Finally, when the land was desperate, Elijah was told to confront Ahab again, and God showed Himself in front of Ahab and all of Israel. Elijah prayed, after the 450 prophets of Baal could not conjure up fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, and fire came down from heaven in such intensity that even the water covering and surrounding the sacrifice was licked up, and the stones of the altar were turned to dust!
Scripture says Elijah himself then slew all 450 prophets of Baal before he told Ahab rain would return, which it did. But even after that, Elijah was forced once again to flee for his life to Beersheba and then to the wilderness, where he told God he just wanted to die.
Elijah lay down and slept, Scripture says. Indeed, sometimes the best remedy may be for us to just rest and wait upon the Lord. The angel of the Lord miraculously fed Elijah once again at this time, and fed him with food that gave him strength for forty days and forty nights!
God found Elijah hiding again – this time in another cave, and asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So Elijah answered him that he’d been very zealous for the Lord, but he was the only one left and was afraid for his life. Here, in spite of all the amazing miracles of God’s power and provision, Elijah was fearful and full of self-pity. He surely was wondering why he was being forced to hide for his life in a cave when he’d done everything God had told him to do! God then stirred up a terrible storm, earthquake, and once again, fire. But Scripture says that God didn’t speak to Elijah through these things. But I am sure Elijah then was reminded who is in control of things! God chose then, after all of that fury, to speak to Elijah in a voice amid the sound of a “gentle blowing.”
God was not finished with Elijah, and to encourage him God revealed that there were 7,000 people faithful still in Israel that had not bowed their knee to Baal. This may have been due to Elijah’s ministry, we do not know.
What we do know is that despite the fact that apparently, he had no family, and that he spent years and years hiding for his life, alone, wondering where his next meal would come from, he was always obedient and remained faithful, even when told to confront the one who wanted to put him to death. And God’s reward for his obedience was an escort to heaven in a chariot and horses of fire! What an ending to a life of sacrifice and obedience. I pray I will be like Elijah, and always be obedient and faithful, regardless of what may come my way.