Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
My friend Margaret Feinberg wrote a book a few years ago called The Sacred Echo about those moments in life when God’s trying to tell you something. But He doesn’t just say once; He repeats the same message over and over again. I guess that’s the only way He can get our attention sometimes.
I’m trying to develop a daily Bible reading plan using the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer. For my non-liturgical readers, the Daily Office has assigned scripture readings for each day: one from the Old Testament, one from an Epistle, and a Gospel reading. A few days ago, the Old Testament reading was 1 Kings 19:1-8:
“Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.” (1-5a, emphasis mine)
So here we have Elijah, on the lam from the princess Jezebel after killing off all of the pagan prophets. After a day’s journey, he finds himself out in the wilderness, alone, tired, and fearing for his life. There’s nowhere for him to go. Elijah has no other choice but to ask God to kill him.
And if I can be totally honest with you, I’ve been where Elijah is.
Okay, so maybe not the part about slaughtering pagan prophets (call me a bleeding heart liberal, but I still cringe at mass killings in the Bible). But during this past year I’ve asked God several times to kill me. Sometimes when I look ahead of me, all I see is more trouble and more struggles. Nothing ever gets resolved. It’s all a never-ending cycle of shit. That’s when I give God hell. Is this the “abundant life” you promised me? Bullshit! I’m sick of this. I want out. Why won’t you let me drink myself into oblivion? That’s all I want.
But God answers Elijah’s prayer in an usual manner:
“All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” (5b-8, emphasis mine)
God gives Elijah food and water instead of death. Elijah doesn’t get his wish; instead, God gives him nourishment for the long journey ahead. And when I read that, I wondered if maybe God’s doing the same with me. Maybe God has better plans for me than instant death. And–here’s the amazing part–maybe God is actually with me helping me out when the journey gets tough.
I guess I have to stick around a bit to find out.