It’s that time of year when the grocery stores are stocking up on their 20+ pound turkeys. I’ve already cooked up one and stored most of it in the freezer. We usually head back to Indiana for Thanksgiving with family, and my sister-in-law puts on the feast of the year. It’s one of those meals where you have to pace yourself, especially if you want that pumpkin pie (with R-E-A-L whipped cream) at the end of the day.
It tends to be the typical “your eyes are too big for your stomach”, so it’s a learning process I suppose.
Kind of like this guy in the Old Testament, who went on to become the symbol-persona of “the prophets”. People were getting used to Elijah doing some pretty amazing things, which also ticked off some of those in high places…
“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: ‘May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.’”
The nefarious Queen Jezebel has a name that is synonymous with manipulative evil. She was Cruella DeVille and Bloody Mary all rolled into one, the quintessential femme fatale.
Interestingly, this threat was delivered in response to one of the most well-known miracles of the Old Testament, the eye-popping show down at the two alters, one for the idol of Baal, and the other for Yahweh. No discussion, case closed concerning Who won. So I find our hero’s response befuddling…
“Then he [Elijah] went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’”
What gives? Surely after such an overwhelmingly convincing display of God’s power and provision, the prophet would consider such a threat insignificant, if not laughable. You want a piece of me? Bring it on! (Or the more famous, “Go ahead, make my day”, etc., etc.)
So Elijah’s response is actually quite encouraging, as well as instructive.
For one, it demonstrates our very human capacity, something that probably most of us don’t like to admit, (like at the Thanksgiving table!) This side of eternity, our faith has limits, as do our emotions, and our physical bodies. As Churchill said, “fatigue makes cowards of us all,” and we sometimes discount how acutely our corporeal-ness effects our mental and spiritual energy. We’re doing so much for God, that we neglect to take care of His temple—our bodies. This can, and does, adversely effects our capacity.
And, as always, God also knew this—
“Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, ‘Get up and eat!’ He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.’”
Here is God providing what He knew Elijah needed in a very practical way: sleep and food. I’m also encouraged that God didn’t rebuff His servant for his frank honesty. Our Father understands our humanness better than we do, and sometimes has to show us what we need, just like a good parent. (Remember, Ah, Mom, do I have to wear a hat outside??)
“So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.”
I will probably stretch my limits this Thanksgiving, as many of often do this time of year, and for those who haven’t yet learned to “pace themselves”, much of it might go in the trash. In the spiritual realm, however, it’s important not to waste what God has provided so that we can effectively accomplish His work.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…”
1 Kings 19:1-8 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.