Sunday, June 18, 2017

JUNE 18 "I've had enough"

     Elijah finally lets it slip that he is human after all. He has been on quite an impressive run of Faith. He closes the heavens from rain for 3 years, he is fed by the ravens, the goes to Zarephath and challenges the widow to feed him with her last morsel of food and proclaims to her that she will not run, then he, by himself, stands on Mt. Carmel and boldly challenges the prophets of Baal to a dual, soaks the altar with water and believes God to consume it with Fire and consume his sacrifice, which God does. My faith probably would have failed when I arrived in Zarephath, only to find that the person God told me would provide for me is worse off than I. However, Elijah is not me.  Elijah is a serious man of faith, seems almost super human, but finally we see that his spiritual armor, like yours and mine, is penetrable after all.  When Elijah hears that Jezebel has put a hit on his life, this sends him in to a downward spiritual roll. Whether it is his one fear, that is attacked, or it is just a culmination of one attack after another, we are not sure why this so affects Elijah, but it does. Elijah does give us a hint though, in verse 4 we read, "I have had enough Lord". I have been here and so have you. This story shows us that we all have our limitations and often God allows us to be pushed to our limits. Elijah says, "Take my life".  In other words, I just want to die, I'm tired, so tired. I could handle the first trial, the second trial, the third, but Lord, they just keep coming......and I'm done! You ever push your kids to their limits and sometimes they respond in a like manner and what do we do? We often turn in our approach, pamper them, because we know that they are at the end of their ability to cope. God has sent Elijah all over for a single meal, but know God changes his approach, God knows he has pushed Elijah to his limits, God knows Elijah is serious about quitting and what does God do? Verse 6 "Get up and eat, he looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water".  This is amazing.  No longer is God pulling the ..."go all the way to Zarephath and there a widow (who is about to die) will feed you.  Now it's, wake up, I've cooked for you and you don't have to move an inch to eat or drink. This is the mom knowing she has pushed her child to far and is now baking cookies and putting a glass of milk her son. Verse 7, Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you".  This is God making a complete turn around, showing compassion and empathy for this man. "The journey is to much for you"....never are these words spoken before as he's running all over the place. Now the conversation starts...first the cookies and milk, put some food in the man's belly, calm him down a little, after all he is asking to die, not a good state of mind, and now God moves on with some conversation..."what are you doing here, Elijah?"  Elijah, is not going to hold back, which he shouldn't, earlier he said "I've had enough Lord" and now he's going to vent....."I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too".  Look at the patience of God here, as a parent dealing with an upset child, God is exercising the same kind of care and compassion. He does not rebuke Elijah here for self pity, but works with him and he is very understanding of how Elijah feels. Elijah has no other reason to believe that he has been left alone, he has not seen anybody else standing up for The Lord, so what does God do..."The Lord said, go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by".  God begins to work with Elijah in his broken down state..then in verse 17-18 he gives explicit direction to Elijah concerning help that is on the way and confirms to him that He has reserved seven thousand who have not bowed down to Baal.  We have to know/discern when people have been pushed to their limits, when they say "I've had enough" we need to listen and be sensitive to that and many times we are not. We quote a simple scripture to them, tell them to handle it and move on. And often they jump off a spiritual cliff and we say "oh well, they were weak". Elijah was anything but weak, but yet even he reaches his limit and God handles this situation with care, consideration, compassion and empathy and because of that, Elijah goes from "I just want to die" to moving on for God, doing more great exploits for God and anointing a great successor, Elisha. We could learn much from today's reading on how to deal with people that have been pushed to their limits. How many could we have saved if we had exercised the same compassion God does towards Elijah? How many would still be serving God today, how many people would still be in church today.  We don't cater to self pity, but we ought not to be cold and calloused either, read over today's reading and get some forethought on how to deal with your brother or sister next time they cry out, "I've had enough".