You’d think after 28 years of reading through the Bible every year, I would expect these surprises, these gifts from God. What I love about the reading plan I am using this year is that readings are from both the Old and New Testament. What amazed me this past week is how the question the Old Testament reading asked, the New Testament reading answered.
The Old Testament reading was from 1 Kings, one of my favorites. Elijah has defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, has all Israel behind him. He has had a great day in ministry, what most would consider their best day ever. Yet Elijah becomes terrified of Jezebel and fights depression so much that he’s ready to die. His best day ever is followed by his worst day ever. Over the years I have learned this not only true for Elijah but for many Christ followers.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is on the run, then ready to give up. Then an angel of the Lord comes to him. Two times Elijah is asked the same question. First in verse 9 then asked again in verse 13, “What are you doing here Elijah?” God doesn’t stutter when He speaks. That the Bible records the same question twice is significant. One reason is emphasis, this is an important reasons. But just as important, God cares for Elijah. God doesn’t ask because He doesn’t know, but because Elijah needs to get it all out — the fear, frustration and futility he feels. God will not abandon His prophet. God will not abandon His leaders. God will not abandon you.
Don’t you love the question? What are you doing here? I sometimes ask myself that question when life overwhelms. What am I doing here? What is going on? Even more what do I do next? God lets His weary prophet rest and eat. One of our great teachers told me that 1 Kings 19:5 was a life verse, “Rise up and eat.” God shows His love and concern. We need food and rest, and most of all Him. We need an awareness of where we are in life and a willingness to hear His voice when He speaks.
Same day as the 1 Kings 19 reading was a reading from John 2. Jesus turns water in wine. Mary pushes, Jesus waits. He speaks of His hour not yet coming, a veiled reference to the cross — the reason why He came here. Then Mary makes a statement that for me is how I want to approach my answer to God’s question in 1 Kings 19. In John 2:5, Mary says, “Do whatever He tells you.”
That’s what happens in 1 Kings 19. Elijah’s out of alignment, and God realigns His prophet back into alignment — 7,000 still follow the Lord, raise up Elisha as prophet, and here’s who you anoint to be king. Here’s what you do where you are — Do whatever He tells you.
So what are you doing here? And perhaps even more importantly, are you doing what He’s telling you to do?