Yesterday my wife and I were telling the kids the story of Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. We told them how Elijah called down fire from heaven and God answered, burning up the sacrifice. Then we told them how Jezebel put a price on his head and planned to kill him, and Elijah, who had just seen the incredible power of God first hand, had feared for his life and run away.
We recounted the story of God’s gracious dealing with Elijah. How, through an angel, God graciously gave his prophet sleep and food, meeting his basic needs—and in the process, meeting Elijah right where he was.
Elijah, you see, was ready to call it quits. He had lost his vision for how God was working in and through him and what God was up to in the world. He was a good man who lost sight of the good news, and as a result, lost his way.
As you may know, after Elijah had recovered his strength, God sent him up on a mountain and told Elijah he would come to him. A rushing wind came, but God wasn’t in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake. Then came fire, but God wasn’t in the fire, either.
Finally, there came a gentle whisper, and out of it, the voice of God.
I feel a lot like Elijah these days. I had a vision for where I was headed, had a longing for the future, but that rug seems to have been pulled out from under me. In this case, I think it’s a good thing, but it’s still hard. Really hard. Like “I feel like I’ve lost my way” hard.
I sat numb through yesterday’s worship service. Two of them, actually. In both services, people were saved and baptized. And praise God! But I felt nothing. I knew I should be joyful, but that knowledge wouldn’t trickle down to my heart.
The Bible, which for me normally seems alive, has felt lifeless. It felt that way this morning, so instead of opening up the box where I keep my Bible, a copy of the Book of Common Prayer, and my prayer cards, I laced up my shoes and went for a walk, searching for God.
I listened to a sermon from my favorite preacher, but God wasn’t in the sermon. I watched the sun rise and flood the sky with shades of deep pinks and purples and oranges, but God wasn’t in the sunrise.
I came back home, still in a daze. Maggie, my wife who knows how I’m feeling, didn’t say anything as I came through the back door and began putting away my shoes, the belt that holds my phone, and my wireless earbuds.
She looked into my eyes and simply said, “Have you had your quiet time this morning?” So much wisdom and love in so few words.
“No . . .” I muttered, ashamed I hadn’t practiced what I had preached to her so many times about being in the Word every day.
“Then take 20 minutes to do that while I make breakfast,” she said.
I nodded, then grabbed some water and my Bible box and headed upstairs.
I followed the Morning Prayer liturgy as I often do from the Book of Common Prayer in 1662 English. It’s weird, I know, but it works for me.
I confessed my sin. Asked God to forgive me, to give me a quiet mind. Then I recited the Lord’s prayer and read Psalm 95 aloud. And ever so slightly, my heart began to lift.
Then I checked my daily reading plan to see which psalm I would be. Sixty-six. I read it aloud. Sometimes you need to hear the Word spoken over you, even if by your own voice.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!” the psalm starts. I force myself to do it.
“Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!'” I force myself to say it.
Then, in the quiet of my bedroom, sitting on the old burnt orange chair from my grandparents’ home, came the voice of God in the psalm’s closing: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!”
My life might look different than I thought it would. I might not be who I thought I would become. But God has not rejected me or my prayers. He has not removed his love from me.
The door to my room opened. It was Maggie. She sat down a plate of eggs and one of her homemade biscuits left over from yesterday’s Sabbath breakfast.
Then God spoke again in John 6 in these words from his Son: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
I will never be cast out.
Today an angel of the Lord named Maggie visited me. She gave me food and space to be with the Lord. Then the Lord spoke to me in a gentle whisper and revived my heart, reminding me that I am his beloved son, and with me, he is well pleased.
Blessed be God.