Elijah under the broom tree
Get up and eat – for there is still a long journey ahead for you!
1 Kings 19, 7
It is as if the watchword for July was speaking directly into our situation – the long haul that still lies ahead as we battle the coronavirus pandemic and all its many consequences. I, for my part, am tired and very low on energy – it has already been a long time of heightened vigilance about hygiene, wearing masks, keeping your distance from others, not being able to interact the way we were used to – and this is going to go on for a very long time.
Of course Elijah had very a different reason for being tired and wanting to give up. He had just had a terribly violent battle with the prophets of the Baal, in which he claimed a resounding victory – but the powers in charge were not going to let him get away with this – he had to flee for his
life and on this flight became so despondent about his calling that he told God: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under a broom tree in the desert and fell asleep. (1 Kings 19, 4-5) There, under the broom tree the angel of the Lord then wakes him up and tells him to eat. He found a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water – he ate and drank and fell asleep once more. He is allowed to sleep – but then the angel wakes him up again and speaks the watchword for July 2020 to him. “Get up and eat, for there is still a long journey ahead for you.”
What a comforting scene – the gentleness with which the Lord nudges Elijah into the future – first giving him sustenance, then allowing him to sleep some more and then more nourishment with the encouragement to prepare for a long journey – at the end of this journey (after 40 days and nights) there is an encounter with the living God of Israel – an encounter that guides Elijah into the next steps for the purposes of God.
Perhaps we too may hear these words spoken to us in these days of loneliness and dejection, fear and uncertainty: “Get up and eat – there is still a long journey ahead for us.” It will be an arduous journey, travelling through a wilderness – but the sustenance we receive from God will get us through. That is the promise and what is more, while we’re journeying and at the end of this journey we can expect God to be there – we’re not going to be alone. It is my prayer and hope, that we can all hear this encouragement in the coming weeks.
Greetings in Christ, Felix Meylahn