[1 KINGS 19:3-13]
When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.
Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”
He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep.
The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”
He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.
Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”
“I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.”
Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.
When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”
i spent the majority of yesterday painting. Not really ‘creative’ painting, since it’s a mural of an image my brother wanted on the garage wall… but hours of painting nonetheless, with Relevant FM (GREAT online station – aka, check! it! out!) playing in the background. i think everyone was surprised by how long i stayed doing it. i really don’t think people understand how art is not a chore at all for me. i’m in love with it. It’s hard to tear me away from it. i’d marry it. The only reason why i stopped is because it got darker and colder and my hands stop working when they’re cold. So, art doesn’t keep me warm enough. i suppose i should reconsider the marriage thing.
Anyway, after deciding to call it quits with painting, the sun was setting and i thought i’d be able to beat it’s last rays shining down on this park. i didn’t quite make it in time, but decided to take a few photos of reflections in the pond for a few minutes anyhow, before jumping back into my car. Figuring it was a good time to have some QT, i started trying to pray & got distracted by my own thoughts. With as much as i’m pretty good at being quiet without really trying to be, i sure do suck at shutting up. When i realized how loud my own thoughts were, i decided to try listening to for God. It’s like being involved in a conversation with a friend and realizing that you’re the one who’s been dominating conversation for… forever. If there’s outter “silence” my mind pushes its pushy self on stage with a loudspeaker. Luckily, last night, the park was in full on symphony-peeper-mode. They were so loud, i could hear them clearly in my car with the windows rolled up. So i tried to focus on their sound, buuut my eyes were open. Instead of listening for God, i started looking for Him. Three geese flew by and i thought A HA! But then thought myself silly for wanting & looking for signs to begin with.
The whole thing made me think of Elijah; this amazing prophet of God who has lived a life dedicated to doing what he hears God (or the Angels of God) tell him to do. The way scripture reads, sure seems like he can hear the Word of God (diff. from God’s voice?) and at the same time, in this scene he still fears men. Specifically it is the men that are after him, who want him dead, that has him in hiding. And so when he asks for death and passes out, the Angel of God wakes him and provides for him and keeps him going. Yet none of this is enough comfort/assurance/fear of God over men, as what a simple gentle whisper is, where God is described as ‘found’ within. (Also, makes me wonder what God’s voice has sounded like prior… or has it always been through Angels that God has spoken to Elijah?) The whole thing is extraordinary. Even with all the years of ‘talking’ with God/’messengers’ from God, Elijah is shaken by this, as though he’s never really heard God before.
i heard a pastor say once, that it’s funny (tragic) how selfish we are with scripture. That we rarely read to hear from God, but rather read to get personal application for ourselves. And its led us in all sorts of personal propaganda routes. Yeah… i’m pretty sure hearing the the pure voice of God would shake us all to the core. Of all the outside things to distract us, our self is probably the worst deviant of all.
Yesterdays sermon was ridiculously tough. The day before, i realized something i did that on the outside surface view was good but in part was also selfish. i was sucker-punched-convicted about it on Saturday & then combined with the sermon Sunday… i dunno. How can you separate your ‘self’ from all that you do? This could lead towards an exhaustive way of thinking — second-guessing intentionality in all my moves. By far my worst critic is me, threatening paralysis on myself all the time. No matter how close my relationship with God is, my self is still very much undeniably present also. Yes i can be refined, but there is no end to it while i am still very much human. There is good. There is bad.
These are the things i was thinking about at the park, all while trying to hear God. The peepers were surround sound fantastic. The colors in the sky were on their standard perfect fade. The geese were ironic as were three ducks that flew in for their water ski pond-landing. And then there were these two trees. Standing close together with a seemingly random, yet intricate in their own pattern of perfection. Like a couple. (yes, i’m silly. i fully imagine they’ve been in a comitted relationship together for many years. likely married.) They became my focus towards the end of color in the sky. Dear God, who made the brain, is it possible to think too much? If so, what/who do i listen to? What/Who do i shut up?