She and her son had weathered years of this drought that had scourged the land, but it was getting very nearly beyond her ability to bear. All she had left was a handful of flour and a teaspoon of oil.
Yet when a stranger, Elijah, asks her to trust that his God will not let the flour and oil run out (and will in fact miraculously NEVER run out until the drought breaks) if she uses her last supplies to make some bread for Elijah instead of herself and her son, she steps out in extravagant trust that this God will keep His word.
The truth of the matter is that left to our own devices, we would never trust God. Faith (trust) is a gift from God - a work of God in your heart and mind and life, by which you can receive the grace of deeper intimacy with God as you see Him work in your life.
Later on, though, she has a crisis of faith when her son dies. But God is gentle and kind when the circumstances of our life crowd in on us and everything around us seems dark. He doesn’t punish us for failing to see Him - He is kind to us in the midst of our doubt, gently and generously sustaining and providing for us.
He brings her son back from death, and he lives again.
Sometimes, God’s people - whilst believing that God is real - turn to other gods in the hope that they will give them more than God does. Whether that God is Baal, as in 1 Kings 17, or career/relationships/beauty/success/material wealth/approval of others, sometimes it’s easy to think that God is withholding good things from us, and turn to these things for satisfaction.
These are good things, but they cannot provide meaning or fulfilment. God, on the other hand, is generous, and delights in providing for us.
Will you step out in risky trust to see Him provide for you?
In 1 Kings 17 we are introduced to Elijah. A nobody from nowhere, who God plucks from obscurity to use in huge ways as a player in God’s unfolding story for the people of Israel.
Yet again, God’s people have wandered away, following the leadership of the most evil of kings, Ahab. Yet in the midst of this, Elijah displays a trust in the character and purposes of God that sees him do as God says even when it seems risky.
There are 2 reasons why one of God’s people might not heed God’s instructions. Are you listening? Are you too busy and focused on other things that you’ve deemed more worthy of your attention to hear His voice amidst the noise? Or maybe you’ve heard His voice, but do you disagree? Do you disagree that His way is the best way forward? Do you distrust Him, or His intentions?
I never stop needing to reflect on these questions. There are so many voices clamouring for my attention, that they can easily drown out the only voice I most need to hear.
For me, it is an act of trust to set aside time to dwell in the Word.
But I am always refreshed and renewed and restored and reanchored afterwards - a million times more ready to do the tasks before me.
‘[Rest] is not weakness; it is trusting God to be able to achieve his plans for us and the world without us running ourselves into the ground.’
Of all the things that threaten to rob me of intimacy with Jesus, busyness is the greatest.
I feel bound by my lifestyle of busyness. To invite you into my way of thinking, I think of rest as something to do when I have finished what I need to do. Currently, I have 13 items on my to do list for this week that sit on top of my regular commitments. This means that I feel an immense weight, a pressure, to be productive and efficient with my time. The outcome is that if I’m not multitasking, then I’m rushing to get what I’m doing done. I don’t really dwell in my activity, I don’t really savour it - I’m rushing through it, eyes on the next task, craving the ever elusive state in which everything will be done.
I don’t schedule in bandwidth to rest. And the consequence of this is that when my body hits the wall, the rest I have isn’t usually good quality rest, because I’m semi-panicked and guilty about the fact that I’m not doing the things I planned to do in the time I’d allocated to do it in.
This pattern of ad hoc rest is not sustainable. And increasingly it’s unsustainable. I have a chronic illness that is getting worse - and, ironically, it is the very productivity that I’m pursuing that I’m losing the capacity for.
I can’t afford to rest only when I am done. Because I will never be done. And at this rate, I will never spend solid time with Him who is the source of life and the reason for living. And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of all my activity? I’ve been saying to the people I lead that rest is integral to work. I need to listen to myself.
Part of the trouble is a niggling fear I’ve had for the past year. It arose after I went through four months of doubt. The fear is that I am wasting my time with this God stuff, and that I should devote my energy to pursuing a career like the rest of the world. The fear is that labouring for The Lord is a waste of time. The fear is that my time is short and I’m going to be left behind.
Throughout the story of God’s people, there are many stories of people giving way to similar fears - that God won’t come through - and instead of trusting God, they take matters into their own hands. They had forgotten who God was. They had forgotten what he had done.
This is me, so often. Too often.
I’m praying that God would help me as I seek to live life plugged into the Life source, not striving in fear-driven frenetic activity.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, where my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Saviour.
Strange little creatures, they are. Scurrying around asserting themselves, postulating politicly and projecting popularity, whilst an overwhelming fear pulses beneath the shiny smiles. A fear of uselessness. Of being unwanted, of caring too much and the investment not being returned. Of their absence being unmissed, and their contributions overlooked. So, it seems, they pre-emptively withdraw into their shells before danger is at hand, they callous themselves to guard against potential harm, and then - just like that - dive straight back into the water.
Of things that distort and stunt, I think fear might just be the worst.