It’s disappointing, isn’t it? The way that Elijah flees from Jezebel. The way he seems to believe his life may really be in her hands and not God’s.
Hasn’t he seen the Lord heal the sick? Doesn’t he shame the Israelites who run after lesser gods? Hasn’t he won a barbecue contest against all the prophets of Baal using only wet wood? I want for Elijah to be better than this. Better than running from a simple threat. Better than spending a night under a scraggly bush and begging for his own death.
I want to hear a story of triumph over Jezebel. I want to hear of how Elijah stands up to Jezebel and how the Lord set things right. I thirst for this story. I hunger for this story. But no messenger of the Lord sets down what I long for, telling me to wake, to eat, to drink.
Fear makes Elijah run. Elijah is human. And I’m disappointed. I want Elijah to be better than me. Because if Elijah cannot stay and face Jezebel, how can I face cruelty and injustice in the world? How can I oppose the forces and rulers who hold people captive from their own lives?
I peer out from beneath my own broom bush to read this passage, and I long for a different story. I want a hero, not a simple prophet. I want certainty, not a crisis of faith.
But this is the story we have. Elijah fears. Elijah flees. I want to resist it, to flee myself, but something pushes me to look again. Is there nourishment here? More than what I want, is this story what I truly need?
Lord, help me to long for what you offer, not just what I desire. Amen.
The fact that we trust in God does not guarantee that life will be easy. Believers suffer discouragement as well. Elijah is a powerful prophet of God who faces profound discouragement. He looks around and sees faithlessness and desolation, as does the psalmist wrestling with his own sense of despair. In both cases the person’s spirit is revived—by divine visitation to Elijah and by the psalmist’s self-talk about the truth of God’s faithfulness. The New Testament readings take us in a different direction. Paul speaks of the freedom we have when we are in Christ, heirs to all of God’s promises. The Gospel writer tells of another kind of freedom, the freedom experienced by a man delivered from demon possession.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-15a. Recall a time you ran to a silent place. How did God send you back into the world?
Read Psalm 42. The author asks us to imagine the words of this psalm coming from the mouth of Elijah and the Gerasene man. Consider how these words might be yours as well.
Read Galatians 3:23-29. How does your faith in Christ help you to embrace the freedom that comes from lack of division rather than to flee in fear?
Read Luke 8:26-39. What true story do you have to tell to the world of what Jesus has done for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
Whitney Simpson offers a wide-open doorway into embodied practice and awakens us to the long-held wisdom of our tradition that our bodies are sacred places where God meets us and dwells. Fully Human, Fully Divine is a true Christmas gift!”
Click here to learn more about our newest Advent book and eCourse.