The Journey: A Whisper of Purpose and Reaffirmation
Three times this week, I’ve heard this scripture.
1 Kings 19: 9-18
9 And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
Sometimes the Journey takes you to some pretty weird places. This story has always fascinated me. Elijah was such a man of God. He had called fire down on the pagan alters and had seen firsthand the power of God. Yet, here he is; he is in hiding. It doesn’t make sense. Why was the man of God cowering afraid of what to come? Why did he feel as though nothing mattered? Why did he feel so alone? His world was figuratively falling apart. Everything can seem so hopeless in isolation when you feel you are fighting battles on your own.
It may sound like a good time for God to abandon Elijah. After all, it appears that his friends had. Elijah has turned from bold faith and confidence to cowering before God, but instead of abandoning Elijah on the Journey, God came to meet Elijah. Then, Elijah’s world literally began falling apart. The Journey became even stranger. There as a great wind, earthquake, and a fire. The wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks. But, God was not in the carnage: not the great wind, earthquake, or fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper, God was in the whisper, and Elijah was listening for his voice.
Elijah told God just what he felt: failure, loneliness, lacking of purpose.
But, Elijah wasn’t alone, a failure, or lacking purpose. The Journey that Elijah thought had come to a dead end was not anywhere near over. God was there, not in the chaos and noise, but He was in the whisper that came after. Elijah knew God’s voice. From the despair of isolation and hopelessness came a plan forward and confirmation that Elijah was not alone after all. Elijah met God, and God restored his faith. Elijah was a man with a mission from God, a man ready for his Journey.
It was time for new leadership. Elijah was to anoint two new kings. There was a succession plan, Elisha would be his successor. More than that, Elijah learned that he was not the only one! There were 7,000 in Israel that did not bow down to Baal and had not kissed the idol. From the midst of despair and wondering whether or not the Journey mattered, God provided a plan, a purpose, and reaffirmation. Nothing had changed about his isolation, but everything had changed about his Journey ahead.
We aren’t alone. God is here. He isn’t in the noise and the destruction, but He is in the whisper that comes after. We can tell him just how we feel. Listen for the whisper of the Holy Spirit. He is giving you a plan forward and a reaffirmation that you are not alone after all. Your faith Journey is not over. Hear the voice of God, understand your purpose, and boldly go forward without fear.
(The Holy Spirit is the indwelling of God for believers who have acknowledged a life inadequate of the Law of God and confessed that inadequacy as sin, believed that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that His blood covers those sins, have accepted Jesus as their savior, and have confessed that Jesus is lord.)