Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Hiding Place

Based on  1 Kings 19:1-21
     My children like to play Hide-and-Seek with our dog, Riley.  Riley understands the game very well.   They put Riley in a “Stay,” and then rush off to hide.    She sits alert waiting for their call.  When finally she hears, “Riley, come find me!”  she dashes off with her tail wagging.  Riley always finds their hiding place, the obvious and the obscure.
     Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, there are times when all of us seek a hiding place.  A hiding place is a place where we can feel safe and secure.  It is a place where impending danger will overlook us.  It’s a place to flee from our troubles.  It is a place where no one knows where we are and what we are feeling.  It is a place where our true selves are disguised.  Some of us are able to hide in plain sight.  We hide behind the smile, the laugh, the good works, and the “I’m fine, thank you.”
     Elijah was a mighty old testament prophet.  When Elijah spoke his words were a blessing or a curse.  By his word rain stopped falling for three years, and then came again.  By his word fire fell from heaven to consume a sacrifice placed on waterlogged wood and stones.   Everyone listened when he spoke.
     But there came a day when Elijah needed a hiding place.  He fled into the desert and had a little pity party sitting under a juniper tree in the middle of nowhere.  He had run long and hard.  He was far out of his comfort zone.  He was exhausted, depressed, and discouraged.  He laid his head against a rock and took some much needed rest.  Have you ever felt so discouraged that all you could do was lie down?
     How many of us look for a hiding place where we feel safe away from everything?  We relax and decide to camp out in our spot for a while.  We give up on the call of God on our lives.  We fall asleep spiritually in our hiding place.  Our hiding place can be our jobs where we work for too many hours.  It might be a project we fling ourselves into away from those who love us.  It could even be the PTA or church.
     But Elijah couldn’t hide from God.  And neither can we.  God knows where we are.  He knows what we are doing.  He won’t allow us to become too comfortable in our hiding place.  Look at God’s tender response.  First, God provided Elijah with sleep.  So often when we are depressed we find that we can’t sleep or that we sleep too much.  God gave Elijah rest.  Elijah woke to nourishment provided by an angel.  Then God gave Elijah a goal.  Elijah was given the task to travel for forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God.
     When Elijah arrived at the mountain,  God gently questioned his discouraged child.   “What are you doing here?”   God asked this of Elijah.  Elijah - who was defeated by fear, who thought he hadn't a purpose for living, who was feeling overwhelmed by his problems.  God asked this to a child who was focusing on the faults of others, to an elder who remembers a better day.
     Then God tells Elijah to stand on the mountain of God because He is about to pass by.  There is a strong wind, the ground trembles, stones fall, trees bust into flame and lightening strikes.  But God is not in any of those things.  Why all of this commotion if God wasn’t in it?  Perhaps it was because God had to get Elijah’s attention.  What does God have to do to get our attention?
     Then came God’s gentle whisper, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  Elijah went out to speak to God.  Elijah knew that God doesn’t only reveal Himself in noisy miraculous ways.  To look for God only in something big may be to miss Him because God is often found gently whispering in the  quietness of a humble heart.  Are you listening for God?  Step back from the noise and work of the busy life and listen in the quiet for His guidance.
     In God’s gentle whisper, Elijah found the calming of his fears and the rising of his faith.  He found strength to carry on.  He discovered that he was not alone.
     God never gives up on us.  He is our Hiding Place.
     How do you hide?

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