What are you doing here?

Published July 14, 2015 by Dawn

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah looked up, sweat dripping down his brow. His clothes clung to him, his body perspiring more from fear than from the forty-day journey that was just behind him. He had come to the top of the mountain, beckoned by the Holy Spirit and recognized at once the voice of God.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Trembling, he wrapped his cloak around himself and inched to the mouth of the cave. A violent earthquake and a straight-lined wind had just torn the mountain in two and he was uncertain of each footstep nearer the lip. He could smell sulfur and see the trees on fire around him. The Lord had sent them all  to show His might to Elijah. Again, the voice whispered, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Pulling his cloak over his face, Elijah shook as he spoke. “I have been very zealous for you, Lord. 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 they are now trying to kill me too.” Let me die, Lord. Let me die!

Elijah was weary. He was yoked to a people who forsook his Lord. Called to speak to a stubborn, hard-hearted nation who wanted nothing to do with Him. Hunted by a woman under the influence of Satan himself and tired. Surely God could not blame him.

“Go back.”

The Bible doesn’t record Elijah’s reaction to God’s command to return the way he came. I can only imagine it. I wonder if his mouth fell open. I wonder if he thought to himself, “Did He hear what I said?” I wonder if his head dropped into his hands, if he wept at the thought of facing his death.

Sometimes God asks us to walk a hard road. And because we are zealous, we do. Zeal makes a lot of hard tasks seem so easy at the time. But then, we face that inevitable bump in the road that looks a lot like depression. An intense sadness. A paralyzing fear and a certainty that we cannot possibly go on. We want to. But we can’t.

Then God meets us there, in our despondency, and He asks straightforward, “What are you doing here?” He doesn’t asks as a rhetorical question. He wants us to talk it out. Get it out of our system. Talk through it and examine the depth of our despair. Talk about that thing that is freaking us out so bad.

Eventually, He will say to us, “Go back.”  Not because God isn’t empathetic. Just because there is still work to do. Much more work to do. And we cannot fear the ones who disagree or hate us for what He gives us to speak. His display of power there at the mouth of the cave was a reminder to Elijah. Even the winds and waves obey Him! Who or what do we have to fear? Be bold! Be fearless! Stand up and shake off that dust! Go back!

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