One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings. And while I love the story of how God proved His might and power over the false gods of Israel, calling fire down from heaven, I think I like what happened next even more.
After that great victory, I’m sure Elijah was riding a surge of adrenaline, feeling pretty good about how things had gone. The fire came down from heaven, right there in front of him, just as he had prayed. You talk about a spiritual high!
But Elijah came down from the mountain.
Queen Jezebel had gotten word of what had happened, how Elijah had executed the prophets of Baal. This enraged the wicked queen, and she swore to see Elijah executed by that time tomorrow.
Suddenly there is Elijah, fresh off his incredible victory, running for his life. He headed a day’s journey into the wilderness, perplexed and distressed. The Bible says he sat down under a juniper tree and prayed to die, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” You can hear the depression and anxiety in his prayer and feel the hopelessness. Here is a guy who just called fire down from heaven, sitting under a tree, feeling abandoned by God and praying to die.
God led Elijah even deeper into the wilderness. Forty days he traveled to the mountain of God, Mount Sinai. God asked him, as he stood on the mountain, what was wrong. Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
At the pinnacle of his career, at the height of his victory, we see this man of God baring the hopelessness of his fears before God. He had accomplished the greatest work of his life, and was left thinking “now what?” So God told him to go stand on the mountain. As Elijah stood there, he encountered a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But the Bible tells us that God was not in any of those experiences. Then Elijah heard a still small voice, or translated better, “a delicate whispering voice.” And Elijah covered his face, for he knew God was there.
How often do we look for God in the big things?
We seem to think the mighty victories is where we find God. We expect God to show Himself in the fire from heaven, or the earthquake, wind or fire. Yet, it is often during those experiences, or right after, that we find ourselves let down and hopeless. We have looked for God in the monumental, and missed Him in the mundane.
All too often, we think we must start the international ministry or do some other magnificent act. And while God calls us to do great things for Him, we must never forget that He is far more concerned with the state of our hearts than He is with what we do. God is far more concerned about what He does in you than what you do for Him. God is found, not always in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He is found in that delicate whispering voice, speaking to us in the midst of our fear and despair, assuring us that He is there.
Am I anti-accomplishment?
No, I’m not telling you God doesn’t want you to win great battles for Him. I’m not implying that none of us are called to confront the prophets of Baal in our own world and culture. What I am saying is this: Do not put your trust in those great things. Do not put your hope in the works, but the God who does them. Do not put your trust in the victory, but in the God who wins it. Do not base your life on what you do for God, but what He does in you.
The wind, the earthquake, the fire, and the victory might forsake you. You might find yourself, in the wake of great victory, running for your life. But that delicate whispering voice of God, assuring you of His presence, is always there.