I love Elijah. (I Kings 17&18) First, it was ok with him when God told him ravens would supply his food for a while. Ravens are scavengers. Yuck! But because God said it, Elijah looked forward to his next meal. (the ravens brought him bread and meat, and I believe they came straight from heaven’s kitchen)
When Ahab meets Elijah on the street, the king accused the prophet of being Israel’s trouble-maker. Elijah didn’t get angry, or pout. He simply replied: HA! You are!
Gotta love his spunk.
Elijah took care of a widow and her son, and God supplied enough flour and oil for them to live on during the famine. Elijah even prayed for God to revive the dead boy. I love how Elijah was quick to see a need and go to God about it.
Every time I read the account about the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, I get a tickle. I mean, the prophets were making fools of themselves and old Elijah just encouraged them to make bigger fools of themselves, to show everybody that there is one God. And Baal wasn’t it.
But here’s what spoke to me this morning. The land was suffering from that long drought. People were desperate. And God pretty much left it up to Elijah as to when the drought would end. So Elijah went up into the mountain to pray for rain. After he says, “Amen”, he tells his servant to run up to the top of the mountain and check the skies. The servant returns to report the skies are clear. So Elijah gets back on his knees and prays again, then sends the servant back to look for storm clouds. Nothing. Elijah continued to pray and look for the answer to his prayer seven times.
After the seventh time Elijah prayed for rain, the servant came back and, probably a little timidly reported that he might have seen a teeny tiny little white cloud on the horizon. And this is what I love:
Elijah jumped up and said: Yes! Get the umbrellas!
Made me stop and think about how often I might have missed recognizing an answer to prayer because it wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I think Elijah was imagining dark, rolling clouds, thunder and lightning as an answer to his prayer. But Elijah recognized that that little white cloud was, indeed, God’s answer.
Elijah’s story also challenges me about my faith. He was so sure God was going to answer his prayer immediately, he sent his servant to go look for the evidence as soon as he was done praying. Then, when the answer wasn’t immediate, Elijah didn’t give up. He dropped to his knees in prayer, and looked expectantly for the answer, again and again. His faith didn’t waver. In fact, the waiting may have prepared him to recognize God’s answer in the form of a little white cloud in the distance.
Father, I thank you for answered prayer. I believe you hear and answer every request that is asked by your children. Forgive us if we miss your answers because we are looking for something else. Help us to bow before your Sovereignty and trust you to answer our prayers according to what you know is best. And may we recognize your hand at work in our lives for our good and your glory.