Elijah the prophet's story is familiar. He had great favor from the Lord and was well known throughout the land. Just days before he gave up under the shade of a broom tree, he called on the Name of the Lord at the altar of sacrifice, ridiculed the prophets of Baal, witnessed fire from heaven consume his offering then slaughtered those who worshiped false gods and idols. He predicted the end of a three year drought and saw the rains approaching in the distance.
Elijah was no stranger to miraculous moves of the God of Israel. He knew Him better than any man alive in his day. But...
he grew weary
he got tired of being in the battlefield with his life threatened after each victory
he felt alone in his pursuit of God's will and plan
he wanted to give up and just die.
But God showed up.
"Then the word of God came to him: "So Elijah, what are you doing here?... Then he was told, "Go stand on the mountain at attention before God. God WILL pass by." A hurricane wind ripped through the mountain and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake: and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper." 1 Kings 19:9-13
During the last few days of the Joni and Friends Warrior Getaway no one experienced hurricanes, earthquakes or fires - but they did experience the gentleness of Immanuel - God with us.
After a particularly hard night, I sat at breakfast sharing with one soldier's wife. Through her tears, she said, "what if God doesn't show up this time?"
No one is immune to doubts in our journey toward home. Not Elijah, not me and not you. No matter what glorious victories we have experienced, the first hand witness of God's hand on our life, the knowledge of His sacrifice, or the assurance of salvation can spare us the shadow of the broom tree where we just want to throw up our hands, throw in the towel and lay down and ask for God to just take us, take us now!
It is during those times, the whisper is heard - asking us what we are feeling and assuring us we are not alone. He is present and He is listening.
We long for a hurricane of hope to blow trials off the map of our heart, the earthquakes of change to alter our circumstances, and fire to consume our fear and doubt - but too often it is the whisper of simplicity where the evidence of the Living God appears.
He whispered to a teenage son of a soldier by giving him a teacher who spoke to him and gave him a safe place to have his feelings about war wounds to be heard.
He whispered to a woman as she sat on the floor of a hotel room and played a card game with her wounded husband and two children, sharing it was the first time since his return from Iraq they felt like a family.
He whispered to a soldier it is okay to mourn the loss of your friends and share your story of pain.
He whispered to a young mother of five as her hands and feet were massaged by a woman with spina bifida sitting on the floor speaking words of encouragement and love to her.
He whispered to the children who told of the loneliness of not seeing their fathers for years at a time while they were fighting for freedom.
He showed up - because He never left.
Thank you for being part of the "remnant" God has preserved for Himself to bless, support and intercede on behalf of those who go into battle. You may not feel your role is as important as the Elijahs, called to the front line of duty whose lives are in danger - BUT you are the testimony and witness God uses to say "you are not alone".
Out of the shadow of the broom tree - smiling in Son-shine service