What are you doing here?”
9 At that place he came to a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake, 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 1 Kings 19: 9-15a
Many years ago, while in a former congregation, we were faced with a polarizing decision whether to build a new modern church or stay in an older limited building with a second floor sanctuary. I had purposely avoided entering the debate for quite some time because to do so would have opened me up to hard feelings and scorn from the opposing side.
One Sunday, during this time, the appointed Old Testament Lesson of the day was this text from 1 Kings. I had an overwhelming sense that God was using this text to speak directly to me and ask, “Why are you sitting here when there is so much to be done?” Certainly, for Elijah there was the risk of vulnerability outside that cave just as leaving my cave opened me up for possible difficulty, but I believe that is just where God chose Elijah and me to be. To keep this story short, I will say I went on to be appointed chairperson of the building committee. This was certainly no easy task as the opposition was very strong and many decisions hurt feelings and caused pain. In retrospect I see I really had no other option than to leave the comfort and safety my cave offered as there was much needed work to be done. This text should speak to all of us constantly as God is always asking each of us "What are you doing here, Elijah?" There is so much work that needs done in the world to have any of us sitting in our respective caves. Yes, leaving our cave may probably make us uncomfortable and possibly sometimes vulnerable but our mission is outside.
The people of Grace share their favorite bible stories for the 2023 Lenten Devotional: I Love to Tell the Story. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily after 7 am for a new reflection.