In part one: My business experienced our best year ever but I was feeling despair. Why? In Scripture: Elijah witnessed the awe-inspiring power of God at Mount Carmel but never received the opportunity to savor it. Instead, an enraged Queen Jezebel wanted him dead, so Elijah escaped to the desert, alone and begged God to take his life. Why?
At times, even after a significant accomplishment we can feel unappreciated, vulnerable misunderstood, abandoned and threatened.
But it was during this time of despair that I was offered a new opportunity that would dramatically impact my career and my life. It was during this time in the desert that Elijah’s extraordinary journey of faith would reach a dramatic turning point.
“He went on alone into the desert, traveling all day, then he lay down and slept. As he was sleeping an angel touched him and told him, ‘Get up and eat!’ He looked around and saw some bread. Then the angel of the Lord came again and said, ‘Get up and eat some more, for there is a long journey ahead of you.”’ (1 Kings Parts of 19:2-9)
Elijah assumed God’s miracle on Mount Carmel would be the turning point of his ministry. He was wrong. Now, Elijah must take a journey to discover the truth. Meanwhile, God quietly provided nourishment for the trip ahead? For forty long days and nights, Elijah traveled to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God, where Moses received the Ten Commandments.
“’Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” (11-13)
Elijah witnessed a mighty windstorm, an earthquake and a fire. But somehow he knew God was not there. Only at the sound of a gentle whisper would Elijah experience God’s presence.
Occasionally, God will surprise us with an awesome miracle like the mighty windstorm or the earthquake but they are rare. It is not our victories that gratify God as much as our day-by-day obedience and attentiveness to God’s quiet and gentle whisper.
It is in the quiet and gentle whisper Elijah receives instructions and a promise that he is not alone. This was the assurance Elijah needed.
Shortly after our record year, I was asked to give a short weekly message for children during worship. Normally, I declined such requests but this time I heard a quiet and gentle whisper encouraging me to say yes. Saying yes to a simple request at my church turned out to be a major turning point in my life. I discovered a fresh talent and an exciting new way to communicate my faith.
My despair at work was quickly replaced by a fresh vitality. Business didn’t change but I changed. The next year was another record-breaker but it would not be followed by despair again. For the first time, I felt at peace with my career and my faith.
So, what did I learn from Elijah?
- God patiently offers spiritual nourishment in victory or despair.
- We must be willing to take a long journey and trust God’s guidance.
- Victories are important but so is our day-by-day obedience and our willingness to listen.
- God’s gentle whisper promises guidance and reassurance that we are not alone.
I found comfort in learning God is not counting my victories, or occasional periods of despair. What really matters is the consistency of my journey: humble when on top and determined when on the bottom but always recognizing that God is still in control.
The comfort is in knowing that you are never alone and God will actively nourish and guide you every step of the way. Thank you, God!