Creating Space for God – Never Alone
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’” –1 Kings 19:11
In all the years that I’ve been studying the story of Elijah, the repetition in the conversation between Elijah and the Lord on Mount Horeb escaped me. Until now. It begins after Elijah spends the night in a cave. The Lord comes to him asking the question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And instead of answering, “I’m on the run from that wicked woman Jezebel,” Elijah gets defensive. “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.”
Now, it may be just me, but I think something in God’s tone of voice must have touched a nerve in Elijah. Without missing a beat, he follows his verbal defense of himself with casting blame on the Israelites who have “rejected Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and put Your prophets to death with the sword.” No denying the truth of that statement, right? But now we get to the heart of the matter as Elijah laments, “I am the only one left…”
Who among us hasn’t experienced that feeling of being alone at some time in life? Even though my sister was with me, I was caught off guard by how alone I felt when my mother died. The matriarch of our family was no longer available to give advice and encouragement; no longer a phone call away. Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar?
Without addressing Elijah’s feelings, the Lord assures him, “the Lord is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11b). And He does, in a trio of natural phenomenon that screams of His majesty. But Elijah, still caught up in his loneliness, doesn’t respond until “came a gentle whisper” (vs. 12). And again (in vs. 13) God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
It’s at this point in the story that the repetition hit me. In verse 14, Elijah responds to God’s question with the exact same defense as before the wind, the earthquake, and the fire (not to mention the still small voice). It’s like he’s trapped in his feelings and emotions. Trapped that is, until God gives him another assignment; another purpose for living. A challenge to stand up to his fear and get on with the next job. And he does. “So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat” (vs. 19).
I can’t help thinking that Elijah’s loneliness disappeared in the days that followed. After all the drama, he finally had a friend. And didn’t Solomon put it this way? “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; if they fall down, they can help each other up” (Eccl. 4:9-10).
So, dear friends, as I conclude my thoughts on Elijah, here is my prayer for you today: May you always have someone in your life who can help you up!