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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Elijah, the Angel, and You

What scenes from the Bible do you love?  What images are moving, inspiring, tender, and meaningful to you?
I love the scene where Elijah gives up.  It's 1 Kings 19:3-9.  He has been pursued to a wild place and he is exhausted, at the end of his rope.  He settles down to die, hoping for an end to trials, an end to contests, and an end to the difficulties attached to being a God's prophet.
"I have had enough, LORD," he said.  "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." (Which is to say, "I'm as good as dead.")
Can you picture that?  I picture a man worn out, lying on the ground, with his head on a stone and his eyes closed.  When I picture that, I don't only see a character in a story.  I see the face of defeat that I have seen in the eyes of so many people.  I see the disappointment, the fatigue, the moment of turning away from the tasks ahead.  Furthermore, I know what that looks like because I've seen it in my face too.  So, what I'm picturing is not just Elijah in the story but you and me in our own story at those moments when we turn away, weary and "done."
… And you remember don't you?  That's not the whole scene.
All at once, an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."  He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.
The angel brings a message of new life, new energy, and more purpose for Elijah's life. That image is the promise Jesus has made to each one of us, in Matthew 11:28.  "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  It's the promise of Jesus, the promise of the angel, and the promise of God.
Good promise, right!  And that's not all!  That is the promise of each of us!  We are called to be the one to bring a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water, to those who labor and are heavy laden. Just as we sometimes find ourselves done in, like Elijah, we are at other times nothing less than God's own angel!