God’s Gentle Guidance
In I Kings 17, Elijah has successfully delivered the warning of God’s judgement to Ahab, and God then instructs Elijah to now go out to the Brook Cherith, which he faithfully did according to the Word of the Lord.
But let’s think back to last week for a moment to compare two similar scenarios. In chapter 19 Elijah ran away into the wilderness, when he allowed fear to enter his heart following the threats of the evil Queen Jezebel.
But, this week, we go back in time a bit, reading about Elijah’s beginnings in chapter 17 to find him in the wilderness, establishing his willingness to follow God’s guidance. Elijah, the man, was being built up in faith, to understand he didn’t need to strive, worry or make things happen, God was in control. So much so, that even his food delivery service was planned, in a most unusual manner as God directed the ravens into action.
Elijah’s chapter 19 wilderness event is the result of fear; however, the chapter 17 event, is a result of Elijah’s obedience. How very different these two visits to the wilderness are, but in both, God faithfully shows up to build up Elijah’s faith, as he demonstrates the importance of following His guidance.
Real stories, such as this, about a real man, Elijah, are recorded in the Bible to represent God’s real interactions with His people. These are stories we can learn from: lessons of faith, obedience and guidance. But also, how we can lose sight of the relevance of God in our lives, sometimes even as our walk with Him goes on over time.
In chapter 17, God sent Elijah into the wilderness after he initially confronted Ahab, it was preparation and encouragement time as Elijah faithfully followed God’s guidance to go there.
On the other hand, when Elijah ran from Jezebel in chapter 19, he was merely doing something familiar that felt safe, as it was what he had done before.
In chapter 17, we see a man strong in faith, listening to the voice of God, guided and led into God’s purpose. He trusted God for something inspiring and new.
But by chapter 19, Elijah wasn’t listening for God’s direction and decided to fall into the pattern of what he had done before, but this time he felt lost and alone having walked out of God’s perfect plan.
God shouldn’t be assessed in terms of ‘what has always been will always be’, but knowing He is in control we listen for His guidance, trusting He will direct us into something purposeful and wonderful.
Let’s be honest, it is easier to do the same familiar thing over and over, but it doesn’t help us grow in faith. Neither does it afford us the privilege of seeing God at work through His powerful, creative ways as Elijah did. Just because God does something once, doesn’t mean that He wants to keep repeating the same pattern, because we might find it more comfortable.
God has a plan to direct each one of us into His purpose that will leave us fulfilled and strengthened, but it requires listening for the still small voice of God, leading us ever forward, and as we follow His direction our faith will grow.
I once read of a shop that closed down, the owner had put a sign in the window, ‘Permanently closed because we never knew what our purpose was’. A very stark reminder to have clear vision of our purpose in life. So, as we learn from the example of Elijah let’s look to God for guidance and prayerfully follow His purpose for our lives. Not content to stay as we are, but praying for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit to revive the church with faith in God.
Heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ, let Your Word be faith inspiring, building on our need to know the importance of following Your direction to make our paths straight before us. Lord, we pray for revival in our hearts, that we might never run away in fear but always look out for the new thing You want to do among us. Let the message of Elijah stir our hearts to action, relying on Your provision and power to accomplish Your purpose among us, amen.