Under the Broom Tree

What are you doing here?” – 1 Kings 19:9 (NIV)

“I have had enough, LORD,” Elijah whined as he dropped under the broom tree, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4).

What was it that reduced a powerful man of God to a sniveling wimp cowering in the caves of the Mid-Eastern wilderness? He’d just come off an astounding victory against 850 false prophets in a daylong mountaintop duel, then ran 16 miles, on supernatural strength, preceding the thundercloud that would end a three-and-a-half-year drought.

Why, after such a dazzling display of God’s power, was he ready to throw in the mantle?

An evil queen threatened to kill him.

So why didn’t he trust God to take care of this situation, as he had all the other times?

Because Elijah was human. Because he was discouraged and depressed. The Mount Carmel victory wasn’t a shutout. Queen Jezebel, although she lost all her prophet puppets, still spewed evil from the throne. The source of the nation’s corruption was still alive and threatening.

Discouragement and depression can weaken the strongest—even those who count on God to provide victory against a world of sin. Elijah was in the midst of an effective, powerful ministry when he fled.

Perhaps he thought the Mount Carmel episode would put an end to the depravity that blighted Israel. Perhaps he thought he’d finally “arrived”—and was, by his own words, “better than my ancestors.” Perhaps he forgot that the miracles wrought and the triumphs won were not achieved through his own power. He was but a conduit of El Shaddai.

What he didn’t see was that his ministry wasn’t an end in itself—it was a link in a chain.

God, in His mercy and compassion, was gentle with his overwrought servant. First He sent an angel to nourish Elijah’s worn-out body. Then, after Elijah plodded hundreds of wilderness miles on foot, after 40 days and 40 nights with no food, as he huddled in a dark, damp cave on Mount Horeb, God asked him a simple question: “What are you doing here?”

The omniscient God didn’t ask because He needed an answer. When God asks a question, it’s because He wants to point something out to us.

Elijah had abandoned the ministry field and was in full retreat. Rather than chastise the discouraged prophet, God reminded him that, contrary to what he thought, he was not alone: seven thousand Israelites remained faithful.

“Go back,” God commanded Elijah. Then He gave him a vision for the future: two others would provide political leadership in the next generation, and Elijah would be given an assistant, a prophet-in-training to take over when the time came to pass on the mantle of ministry.

I, too, can get so discouraged at times I want to quit— quit teaching Bible study, quit writing, quit the ministries God has called me to. I don’t see the results I expect for all my efforts, and it seems I’m expending precious time and energy for nothing.

Ministry is a heavy mantle, and God has called us all to be His ministers in one way or another (Matthew 25:35–40; 28:18–20). Times of deep discouragement and despair will come, and our wilderness caves invite us to retreat in self-imposed solitary confinement.

But the One who called us will not leave us there alone. He will nourish us, comfort us, encourage us, and, when we are ready, send us back to the ministry He has called us to.

Thank You, Lord, for the wilderness experiences that remind me that You and You alone are the source of the power I need to serve You. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Kings 19.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

False Alarm

Image by Brett Hondow from Pixabay

And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet     . . . No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. —Matthew 24:31, 36 NKJV

Visiting my daughter and her family a number of years ago, I’d borrowed their new car one evening to attend a local baseball game. Returning after the game, I went to lock the car and pushed the wrong button on her key fob. The alarm horn persistently shouted my mistake to the entire neighborhood. The sound was deafening. It didn’t help that it was nearly 10 p.m., the children were asleep, and this was a nice, quiet, peaceful neighborhood.

As I fumbled with the gadget, frantically pushing buttons—any button—all the buttons—my daughter came out and, with a knowing grin, grabbed the key fob from my hand. In two seconds, the neighborhood was quiet once again.

I think those car alarms go off more by mistake than when a would-be thief tries to break in. With all the racket the alarm makes, it would take a pretty dumb thief to even try.

But maybe not. When we hear a car alarm, do we even pay attention? Or do we tune out the noise, assuming it’s just another false alarm?

False alarms aren’t anything new.  

Over the years, many have tried—and failed—to pinpoint an event God promised will happen: the return of His Son and the end of time.

Remember Hal Lindsey? People rushed to get his book, The Late Great Planet Earth, when it was released in 1970. According to Lindsey’s calculations, Jesus would return within “one generation,” or forty years, of the rebirth of the country of Israel. That would have been 1988.

Yet, in spite of so many false alarms, few topics have intrigued folks more than the end times. Even Christians disagree as to the when and how. And what about all the earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, famines, and fires we hear so much about? Are they signs that the end is near?

Does it matter?

Jesus Himself said even He, God’s own Son, didn’t know the day or the hour—only the Father knows. He warned of false alarms and told us to be ready at all times.

So what really matters? I believe it’s living life as though the trumpet will sound at any moment. Whether or not I’m caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17) or whether or not there will be a millennial reign (Revelation 20:6) doesn’t really matter. What matters is the fact that Jesus will return and I am ready with Jesus as my Savior and Lord and am diligently doing what He’s called me to do.

“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11–12).

Do you have the Son and eternal life? Are you ready to meet Him when He comes back for His own?

Let me not put too much emphasis on trying to interpret the signs of the times, Lord Jesus. Rather help me to focus on living my life so I am always ready for Your return. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 24 and 25.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.