25 June 2010 (Sheshi/Kippur)|
Day #102, 5934 AM
Alone with Elijah
Making the Most Out of Everything
A well-known Chinese proverb says:
Yesterday we looked at the secret of usefulness and discovered it to be a passionate love affair with Yahweh's Word coupled with a determination to rigidly adhere to justice and righteousness. And since righteousness is determined and measured by Yahweh's Word, the Bible, it follows that true justice and right-living can only flow out of obedience to Yahweh's set-apart pattern of life.
There are phases in our life journey where we may feel that usefulness is a direct function of pace. Sometimes, though, things can appear to move ever so slowly. In these slow times it is tempting to confuse quantity with quality.
One of the most frustrating and precarious times for the prophet Elijah was when he was hiding in the wilderness from the murderous reach of wicked Queen Jezebel. And though we are not told how long he was there, we gather from the Scriptures that Elijah parked himself by the Brook Cherith and was supplied daily with bread and meat by ravens for a very long time, at least until the brook dried up during the during the drought.
Having lived in the Far East and seen poverty, it angers me when Westerners, who have so much, complain about their food. We are unbelievedly and revoltingly spoiled. How would you like a diet of nothing but river water, bread and plain meat - twice a day - for weeks or months on end? Elijah had no butter, no jam, no spices, no veggies, no delicacies of any kind. Just plain meat and bread. Even more remarkable is that Yahweh used ravens, causing them to do something totally contrary to their nature!
"Then the word of Yahweh came to [Elijah], saying, 'Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.' So he went and did according to the word of Yahweh, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook" (1 Kings 17:2-6, NKJV).
Was Elijah wasting his time out that by the brook? What could he possibly be productive in except prayer? Well there you have it! You, see, no matter where you are, you can be productive in something, how ever meagre your resources and your opportunities. You should always be able to look back at any period of your time as a believer and say, in spite of your limitations, that you were fruitful in something useful, even if it was only one thing.
As some of you know, my bathrooms or toilets are unofficial extensions of both my library and of homeschooling. You will always find at least one Bible there, an atlas, National Geographic magazines, Science magazines, History magazines, Christian periodicals, a few newish newspapers, and a few other books. I chuckle with interest when a book or a magazine 'goes missing' and is returned a day or two later because I know someone has found something interesting and wanted to know more. Often one of my sons or daughters will ask me a question or pass a remark about something they have discovered. I try to make learning spontaneous and enjoyable and in the most unusual places. I guess that's the teacher in me at work.
It actually amazes me that people can be so easily bored when there is so much of interest around us no matter where we may be and no matter how restricted or limited our resources. Seeing and knowing people living in poverty when I grew up as a boy taught me valuable lessons about being content with what we have. I would delight in a plain bowl of rice as a treat. Another gem of Chinese wisdom says:
Our needs are always sufficient, our wants a task-master. Thus the great Chinese philosopher observed:
"Even though you have 10,000 fields, you can only eat one measure of rice a day; even though your dwelling contain 1,000 rooms, you can only use eight feet of space a night."
We are not told that Elijah grumbled as Jonah did. When his provisions ran out, Yahweh told him to move on:
"To have enough is happiness, to have more than enough is harmful, that is true of all things, but especially money" (Lao Tse).
So he moved on and was provided for in another way. His movement in prayer was followed by movement of his feet which led to movement of his mouth and miracles.
"And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of YahwehD came to him, saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you'" (1 Kings 17:7-9, NKJV).
There is never any justification to be still or idle. There is always something productive you can be doing. Moreoever, there is always something spiritually productive too. Some, in Elijah's situation, might have built sandcastles or stone mounds. One lonely marooned man on a Polynesian island painted a face on a football with his blood and pretended it was his buddy and nearly went mad. Men and women of Elohim need not end up like that. Provided they are in close contact with Yahweh, they will never be alone.
Keeep moving, and keep moving IN Christ and there will always be something useful and satisfying for you to do.