Hello, from the rainy north. We almost never get lightning and thunder during winter but it is reverberating our current weather. Maple trees are outdoing themselves in getting an extra early start on our syrup season too. As our snow is washing away it is nice to find an inside perch beside a cozy fire. “As I mused, the fire burned…” (Psalm. 39:3)
“Well this is a fine state of affairs,” thought Elijah. “I’m positive that God sent me here to be fed. But the first person I meet is a widow that is in more desperate straits than I am. Who is it that is supposed to sustain me? I don’t feel that I should just leave this starving bag of bones here on the street to die, but what can I do?”
I’m not sure what Elijah had eaten on his 100 mile trek from his Kerith retreat (I Kings 17) where food and water had been effortlessly, plentifully and miraculously supplied, but now he was venturing on the next steps of a new course of discovering God’s will. He had been in God’s will but had new instructions to find a widow to sustain him. A successful businessman might have been more effective! But this first destitute creature was obviously not that widow. How was he to determine God’s will to provide for the next season of his life?
In order to draw Elijah into this new season of dependence, God had to disconnect him from his former Divine-ordained system of sustenance. Now as he stood at the entrance to Zarephath he probably felt a strong feeling of misgiving. He had embraced the disconnect from Kireth’s provision, had obediently walked through a period of transition, but was now unclear about the next step of reconnecting. Initially he didn’t imagine how to connect with the miraculous power within. It had been there, but was latent.
In looking at this incident I see Elijah going through three phases:
- disconnecting from his former system of provision at Kerith,
- transitioning time as he walked 160 kilometers to Zarephath
- reconnecting with a new resource of provision through a starving widow.
At any phase he could have felt abandonment to the security of what had been established. And he probably expressed confusion when the ravens stopped coming, or when he met this starving victim of the famine. In human terms, I’m sure he didn’t grasp the overview of what God was doing. I would expect he even misunderstood the nature of the disconnect. Why would God bother to change a strategy and methodology that was working? And I expect he was unable to decipher the new plan for reconnecting.
As a normal human he was going through some spiritual, emotional and physical dynamics of uncertainty. What Shadow was he shrouded in as he walked in obedience but could not see the latent power that God had instilled in him for this next season? Did he even realize that his three step model of obedience was being set for hundreds of generations of posterity?
As I’ve been contemplating the significance of the Shadow of Death, I’m becoming heavily aware of so many folks struggling with their own Shadows. It’s easy to consider that my Shadow is darker than yours, but any degree of disconnect from our Divine heritage is death in itself. It isn’t abandonment by the Father even though the feeling is there. It is the awfulness of not being connected. His Word and my experience are my only assurance that He will pillage it so that it produces treasures that will be beneficial before He turns that Shadow into the light of morning.
May you be blessed as one who is sent to people who feel abandoned, to take the peace that is within you and share it with them. (Isaiah 52:7)