Tuesday, August 31, 2010

He had nothing. Nothing but faith.

This year I've been reading through the Bible, cover to cover.  It started when I was inspired by others who were following the "read the Bible in 90 days" plan.  The idea of reading through so quickly and consistently seemed great... I thought it would all flow together and mean so much more by reading larger chunks of scripture.  And I had a great start.  In no time at all, it seemed, I had read Genesis through Deuteronomy.  But, I slowed way down when I got to I and II Samuel.  Then the printout that showed how much I should read each day was slid into a drawer so not to remind me that I had fallen from the 90 day plan!  But, I kept reading... and enjoying stories of old.

One night, alone with Victor, I was reading out loud about when Solomon took over the kingdom of Israel following King David's death.  There's no gentle way to discuss this... there were a lot of killings of David's enemies.  One enemy after another was put to death.  And there was such action!  So, my 11 year old boy was really enjoying Bible story time!  He had a play sword in hand, raised it up and called out, "Kill him!"  Oh dear... like I said, there's no gentle way about that passage of scripture.  Sometimes there's just not a gentle way about life... it gets messy... people get hurt... we don't like it.  But above all of the circumstances, there is a God who is ordering each breath and heart beat, who has a redeeming love for mankind, a God who is sovereign.

There have been many times I have questioned why dark times hit in life.  Was this God's will?  I have often times wondered, "Really?  Why does life have to hurt so much?  Why does everything seem so hard?"  And I  longed to be on someone else's path... mine was too painful... and I, sadly, focused on what I had lost or what I never had.

Then last week I had made my way to I Kings chapter 17.  It is simply amazing how that one chapter spoke to me.  Elijah lived at a time when prophets were many times killed by the king because the king didn't like the message from God that the prophet delivered!  We don't know about Elijah's upbringing, that I can tell, but we read that he served the Lord, the God of Israel.  I liked that verse.  I think of myself as a person who serves the Lord.  I have prayed many times, "God, take my life and use me to make a difference in others' lives.  Show me how to live for you."  So, I was eager to read about Elijah's experience! 

Elijah gave King Ahab a message that there would be no rain for a few years.  And God sent Elijah to a ravine next to a stream to hide out... to keep Elijah safe... and sent birds to take him food.  Here is where I wonder.  Was Elijah raised in a God-fearing home?  Did they worship God together?  How many people in Israel were there living for God?  Did they encourage each other?  Just a couple of generations back, weren't most people in Israel following God?  How come so many turned to follow false gods?  God had promised to bless them and give them peace in the land if they would stay true to Him and follow his commands.  Why would they trade that blessing for a curse?

But, back to Elijah... There he was, following God, sent out by a stream in a ravine.  He didn't have a mattress.  Or a house.  Or animals.  He had nothing but his faith, some water and food brought by birds.  What did he do during the day?  Did he get impatient?  Did he care about material things?  He had nothing!  Nothing but faith.  And I felt a stirring in my heart.  Many times in my life I felt like I had "nothing".  Dreams were broken.  Hope was nearly non-existent.  Although I could look into the eyes of my beautiful children, my heart was crushed by dark times.  There was a time I felt my faith slipping.  And God sent a stirring inside my heart just when I needed it and people joined beside me on my path to help get me through... But, I didn't like it.  Not one bit.  So, I sat staring at page 410, taking in that Elijah served the Lord.  And he had nothing.  And the water dried up, so God sent him to a widow and worked a miracle of provision so that they would eat daily and their needs were met.

I have no idea if I am articulating what went on in my heart last week good enough... I guess I am finding peace in contentment yet again.  Giving my dreams and goals to God, knowing that He will help me on the path that I am on.  Knowing that if I have nothing in the worlds eyes, I have faith.  In the end, that is all that matters.  And when I feel myself slip into self pity, when I look at my path and wish that I had a different one... I can remember Elijah.  Did it ever occur to him that he had nothing?  Did he want a home or animals?  Did he have a sore back when he woke up?  What mattered to him?   Well, I do know the answer to that... to him what mattered was to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.

And, so, to finish this post of my musings, I keep hearing Rebecca St. James' singing in my head, "At the end of the day, You alone will remain".  No matter what our different paths are, in the end, He will remain.  That's all that truly matters. 


Anonymous said...

I would like to remind you that faith and gratitude go hand in hand. Thanks be to God. Be thankful for the least that you have and things get better. Have a grateful heart.

Betty Marie said...

Thank you! As I re-read what I wrote I realized that the next step before me is just that! Gratitude. And I think with that gratitude comes joy... and my joy seems to have been sporadic lately. Life's bumps tend to derail my joy. Definitely a work in progress!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Betty! I will choose to be grateful. I will choose joy:) Love ya!