“What are you doing here, Elijah?” – 1 Kings 19:13
Sometimes you feel alone. Sometimes you feel as if no one else gets it or has the courage to take on the powers that be.
The prophet Elijah felt precisely that way. Hounded by crazy opponents and nasty threats, he ran. Elijah fled to a cave on a high mountain. Where God asked him a single, simple, shocking question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Perhaps Elijah wished to say, “WTF, God, haven’t you been paying attention?” What he said was, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left…”
“I alone.” Sometimes that’s how it feels in the midst of a hard struggle. Not only that, but there on the mountain, lots of drama. Earthquake, wind and fire. High drama to confirm Elijah’s high claim of being the very last faithful person still standing.
After all the drama, God tried again. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And again, Elijah went through his “I alone” speech. But Elijah had it wrong. Despite all the speeches, Elijah wasn’t the last faithful person. And despite all the pyrotechnics, this wasn’t the end.
“Go, return,” said God, who gave instructions to Elijah on identifying next generation leaders. After which God noted that there were actually thousands of faithful people left.
In the midst of the struggle, you can feel alone. And there can be a bit of self-dramatization in that, even a bit of grandiosity.
God reminded Elijah, and reminds us at such moments, to climb down from our high, lonely perch, to keep things in perspective. Do your part, share the work, prepare new leaders and know that that there are many more faithful people out there than you had thought or imagined.
God, may we take you and your calling to us more seriously, while taking ourselves just a little less seriously.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony’s “Weekly Meditation” and “What’s Tony Thinking?” at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.