“What are you doing here?”
1 Kings 18.16-40
Elijah was one of the great prophets with more than a few dramatic stories of encounters with God and incredible miracles. In one such story, he has just had the most magnificent victory against false priests and prophets and was literally on top of the world. He had gone up single handedly against 850 ‘priests’ of the gods, and GOD showed up in a spectacularly miraculous way sending fire down to consume an offering. The people united behind him to clean house of the evil priests, and as a nation, put their faith in God.
It should have been evidence that God’s power was all over his life, and all about his protection, but just after this he was in a dark hole.
I don’t know what transpired in Elijah’s heart, but word of the queen who liked those now very dead priests got to him… she sent word she was going to kill him and fear took over him…
…and he ran.
This Fear is so overwhelming that he sprints into the wilderness to the point of exhaustion where he curls up under a tree and asks to die. God sends an angel that wakes him twice to give him food and water for his journey of 40 days and nights to get to the “mountain of God” where he goes into a cave and spends the night. He wakes in a cave to have God call him on the carpet.
The Lord comes to Elijah and says, “What are you doing here?”
1 Kings 19:11-13 (NIV)
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I’m talking to a few people…not the masses…just a few of us this time.
When you were a child, did you ever break something and then hide, fearing for your life? Did you ever fear the consequences so much that you literally were beside yourself in fear? The adrenaline rushing through your tiny little body, crying, your heart beating so hard it hurts…and there’s this awful realization that it cannot be undone and the wrath that was sure to follow made you sick to your stomach.
Can you remember?
In full disclosure of my heart, sadness creeps through and a tear forms in my eye me as I remember..and I’m there. I’m 5 years old again and the fear grips my heart as though my very soul were trying to come out of my body and escape the torment.
I remember vividly the fear that gripped me…it shakes my core even now…and I’m there again.
I’m there…I am about 5 when I broke a favorite antique rocking chair
I’m there again when I am about 9 when Mark Mason and I were wrestling in the house my family was renting and we caved in a section of the hallway wall.
I’m there, waiting for the wrath that’s about to fall on me alone for my sins and, like Elijah, we are expecting an anger to come down on us like the wind to tear our limbs from our bodies in their rage and fury and throw our pieces to the four corners.
We are expecting an earthquake that will move the very foundations of our lives bringing everything crashing down.
We’re expecting burning fire and vengeance and wrath to sear and burn the skin from our flesh.
While the world is coming apart in tornados, earthquakes, and fire, Elijah retreats into the cave like we do…scared of the consequences, scared of the authority that we feel is about to take out vengeance on us, pour out wrath on us. As he’s waiting in dark place, something unexpected happens.
…a still small voice calls to him inside the cave,
“What are you doing here?”.
Elijah covers his face, and walks out to have a very real conversation with God who gently, but firmly, puts Elijah back on track.
We have places in our lives where everything comes apart….everything crashes around us. They may be our fault and direct consequences to our actions…or our inactions. The blame may be our fault or the fault of our actions with others. When Mark and I went through the wall, he ran home and I was left holding the bag and the full brunt of my father and the consequences of both our actions fell on me. (If I’m honest, I’m still a little bitter about that…but I would’ve done the same thing)
BUT, what I’m trying to say is…
The fear you had/have from your dad/mom/uncle/older brother/sibling/step parent/foster parent/boss/wife/husband is not the kind of fear that God wants you to have.
Like Elijah, YOU may be hiding in your cave right now, hiding from the consequences, hiding from truth, hiding from the calling that is on your life, hiding from the pain, hiding your gigantic faults and ugly addictions. You may be fearing what God will do to you, hiding deep from the light from the disaster that you’ve created, you’ve allowed…and the weight is tearing you apart right now.
You may be hiding emotionally from the mess you made last week, month, or 20 years ago…and God has given you time as the world raged it’s vengeance on your hiding place…
whether you are running or hiding like a child, God saw Elijah and provided for him in his running, provided for him at the point of death, just like He’s done for you.
In his hiding, God gave him rest and allowed for him to rest just long enough, just like He’s done for you.
And as you’re waiting for the hammer to fall like a scared child, you could realize that, like Elijah, God has not drawn you out of your cave with vengeance…because God was interested in restoring a relationship with Elijah…just like He’s interested in restoring you.
He’s not going to use earthquakes, fire, and tornados…He’s going to call out
“What are you doing here?”
It’s a voice that loves you, has a plan for you, and wants to bring you back into a relationship.
Come out of your cave, it’s time.