July 23, 2017
Sometimes we don’t know as much as we think we know. Once upon a time, I thought I knew how to grow a church. Park was thriving; I was successful. I knew how to grow a church. Until I didn’t. In the space of about three months, nearly everything I had worked for for the past fifteen years evaporated. We were struggling, not sure if we would survive. We did, but we went through the wringer in the process. Turned out, I didn’t know much at all.
It was the Elijah story all over again. He had just had a smashing victory and was sitting on top of the world. Until Jezebel came along. She was not someone to be trifled with, and let it be known in no uncertain terms that he was in her crosshairs. Elijah did what any courageous man of God would do. He ran. Long and hard. After forty days, he ended up at Horeb, the mountain of God. After a dazzling display of power, God spoke. In silence, if you can imagine that.
Elijah complained about how he was being treated. I think he expected God to feel sorry for him, to commiserate with him. But the God of all mercy was merciless. Instead of throwing an arm around him and saying, “There, there; you poor prophet,” he threw down the gauntlet. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He thundered. All Elijah could do was repeat his complaint, to which God repeated his challenge. “What are you doing here?”
God wasn’t done with him, but before he could lead him into his future, he needed Elijah to do a little soul-searching. So often when we complain about our circumstances, we want God to comfort us, but instead, he confronts us. God had a plan for Elijah, and he has a plan for us, no matter how desperate and hopeless our situation seems. But it begins where we are right now. Why are we where we are right now? And what are we doing while we’re here? While we are busy questioning where God is when we’re hurting, he’s busy questioning us, hoping we’ll begin to look seriously at ourselves and our situation. Because only when we see clearly where we are can we begin to move into the future God has. So, what are you doing here, wherever that may be? Whatever it is, be assured, God isn’t finished with you, any more than he was finished with Elijah. You have a future. You have hope. And for that you can be thankful.