The winter sky and the scraping winds on this early January morning send shivers of doom and foreboding through my cold, cold bones. Even though I am warm and toasty in my home, and have piled on my sweats, socks, and a wool afghan is tossed near-by, I freeze. I feel the frown between my brows. I know, if only I would stop looking outside and focus on my interior setting I would be comfortable.
As far as the dark mood, I am in, it always makes an entrance riding on the coattails of a gloomy day. It is a passing thing and I dismiss it quickly as I open my Bible for a time of devotion; fortified and satisfied by “the Word,” I am myself again. I’m ready for the day… let it happen!
I made a decision in mid-December to read more often in the Old Testament books, especially the ones that have confounded or confused me. I chose 1st Kings to start with because of the skipping around and changing back and forth between Israel’s and Judah’s history, and the kings’ names, and the kings’ places. Normally when reading such books as this it is to get a spiritual word, just for me; believe me, they are there. However, this time I wanted to clear my thinking about times, people, and places. I also wanted to concentrate on the seemingly strange things God causes or allows His children to experience.
I chose 1st Kings reading from “THE MESSAGE” version, because it speaks my language and I can more easily follow its trail through the tangles of history. By chapter 17, I was hooked. I had been reading great chunks of the book at a sitting; I was stopped many times by the need to do a little research (usually Matthew Henry’s commentaries,) verses 2-7 was one such time.
1st Kings 17:2-7 The Message (MSG) God then told Elijah, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at the Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve ordered the ravens to feed you.” Elijah obeyed God’s orders. He went and camped in the Kerith canyon on the other side of the Jordan. And sure enough, ravens brought him his meals, both breakfast and supper, and he drank from the brook. Eventually the brook dried up because of the drought.
Of course, I know God uses special people to warn and on occasion chastise, but how he cared for his man Elijah, after his obedience was no ordinary thing. (Isn’t that just like God?) He chose Elijah to send a message to the King of Israel, Ahab (the most evil of all Kings of Israel). In verse one, through Elijah, God said, “For years you will experience drought, not even any dew will touch your ground.” A promise the false idols Ahab worshiped could not undo.
Afterward, Elijah was on the run having been commanded by God to hide. This is where I landed to pass the time with some curious thoughts. Have I ever done “a thing” for God, and then been told to lay low? To put it out there and let the consequences happen as I seek safety while waiting on Him to make the next move, or been told to hide to avoid taking credit for a God thing? I continue to ponder…
In a mighty way, God provided for His man. He had him camp near a brook of water; a natural way to care for Elijah’s liquid needs, but he also chose an unnatural way to meet his food necessities ~ a God way. He sent ravens to bring meat for Elijah’s life fuel. The natural help eventually failed (due to the drought,) but not the providential help. For a year or more, the lowly, often hated birds of God’s choosing flew in the meat without fail. The fact God could have, but did not use angels to attend to His prophet could lure me to follow another tantalizing path of study, but I’ll mark this “save” for another time.
Dwelling on the feeding of Elijah teases my curiosity, and I stray into my imagination. Did the birds bring the food and drop it at the feet of Elijah, prepared to his taste, ready for the knife. Or, did Elijah perhaps have to give chase, (bringing him much needed exercise for his health’s sake) and remove the meat held tight in a black beak? Did he have to scrounge up wood, build a small (but warming) fire, and cook the pieces while fending off scavengers? In other words, was this a small inconvenience covered with a napkin, or a time of lessons learned, or expediency practiced? Either way, would it not involve a total dependence on God to deliver the food?
Then there is this… how many “tales of old” dwell on ravens or other birds caring for people? Were many of the fabled stories of my youth based on the most startling happenings in the Old Testament? I think so. It is a spiritually growing thing to realize just how much of life, whether factual or born of suggestion, is influenced by scripture. Often old fanciful tales dwell on morals passed through ancient words of God’s wisdom. I love happening on these seemingly “out of place” piercing words whose origins can be traced to the finger of the Almighty writing on the air of history.
As I finish chapter 17, I pause in my reflections of the teachings and history of Biblical facts and the resulting input in (some) human fiction, and give thanks. As always when studying God’s word, it reaches out to me with a spiritual touch. I had interjected myself in Elijah’s story; the Lord spoke and I was made aware, once again, of the sufficiency of a holy God, who loves me intimately, cares, and provides for me in ways of His choosing. It is my responsibility to pay attention and realize when I’ve experienced His watch care.
I flip to the New Testament: Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. (John 6:35) I am once again amazed how they meld so seamlessly, the Old and the New.
I wandered in His word, and He satisfied my wondering, however, leaving just enough intrigue to bring me back for more. I close my bible, click off the internet search of commentaries, it seems I went my own route today; perhaps I should have been more conscious of “God using a certain man for certain times,” but those birds just kept jumping at me, and maybe I want some of that food, the kind only God provides.
The morning is gone; it is still dull gray, windy and bitingly cold. I don’t care, I’ve been warmed by the Word as He took me on a journey and spoke life to me.