A God who Pursues

Elijah was a prophet of God during a time in Israel when that livelihood was a death sentence. Wicked King Ahab ruled with his wife Jezebel who served the false god Baal. But Elijah was bold, issuing a challenge the followers of Baal. Whose God would send fire from heaven to consume the offering made on Mt. Caramel? To Jezebel’s horror, the prophets of Baal suffered a grave defeat before the one true God on Mt. Carmel. Elijah’s first  call to God, resulted in fire from heaven that burned up his sacrifice while 200 prophets could not get Baal’s attention no matter how fervently they called to him.

God proved himself to be the one true God in Israel and he used his prophet Elijah to do it. Boldly Elijah demanded the death of every false prophet of Baal. Then he prayed for rain which had not fallen in Israel for three years, and when God sent a storm, he gave Elijah supernatural strength to outrun it, arriving in Jezreel before King Ahab who had a chariot to ride!

Elijah was experiencing a high moment in his career as a prophet of God. Jezebel’s response was to issue a death warrant!

Elijah panicked, and ran. He escaped to the wilderness, found a spot under a broom tree and gave up. Praying to God for death, he collapsed in sleep. Through a series of miraculous interventions, God reached out to Elijah in his broken and desperate state, providing for his physical need of food and shelter, and ultimately his spiritual needs, with a personal encounter in the form of a “still, small voice.”

Ultimately Elijah was restored to strength and faith by God Himself. God’s Word came to him in a whisper on the mountain breathing life into his shaking limbs, and trembling heart. (See 1 Kings 19.)

I tend to wonder how Elijah could have fled before wicked Jezebel’s threats after God had proved Himself so powerful. How could he have been afraid of a mere woman, even if she was queen, after what he had seen God do at his request on Mount Caramel?

Then I realize it’s the same thing I do.  Last week a friend of mine sent me a text to ask how I was doing. It had been a frustrating  few days with calls to our insurance handler, bills coming in from the hospital, and more paperwork requirements. I had to admit I felt like a spiritual bipolar. I found myself wanting to run and hide in a cave.

I have seen God do miraculous things on my behalf. I have experienced his power and provision in my life. I have walked a path carved out by his hand and been in awe of his glory. And yet, like Elijah I can be laid flat in a cave in the wilderness by material threats. (I’m not even being chased by a witch Queen with a death wish. In my case it’s hospital bills and a loved one with chronic pain.)

I guess I can’t be too hard on Elijah. Instead I am compelled to learn from his story. The biggest thing I learn is that God came after him. God pursued this worn out, frustrated, and scared prophet. He cared for him, providing for his needs–food, water and shelter. Then he engaged him. You aren’t done Elijah! I have more for you to do in my name.  Elijah was ready to throw in the towel. But God wouldn’t let him.

When I’m tired and frustrated and feel overrun by forces beyond my control, I can easily feel like running away. But God won’t let me either. He cares too much. So He chases after me. He provides. He equips. And He engages.

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