1 Kings 18:1–2 (NIV)
After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
ME: THIS IS THE WAY—
YOU: FROM GLORY TO GLORY!
Some days, actually many days, I really struggle to write the Daily Text. I sense the magnitude and weight of the word of God in a way I can’t bring to words. It is usually a sign the Lord is trying to teach me something I can’t or don’t want to grasp. I spend more time than I care to admit with my head flat on the table in front of the computer, whispering to God, “What are you saying? What are you doing? What are you thinking? What are you feeling?” This feels to me like the agonizing press of glory. There are many things I would like to say and they are true things, and I write them down, yet they don’t ring true to the active and present word of the Lord.
I think about Elijah and the widow and her son. I think about Ahab and Jezebel and the hundreds of prophets of Baal. Elijah is a prophet who has come out seeming obscurity at the top of chapter 17 to speak the Word of God to King Ahab. Then he is sent into hiding for three and a half years, during which time he has been placed on the top of Israel’s most wanted. Meanwhile, his entire work has been paired down to taking care of a widow while waiting on the next instruction from the Lord. He has done nothing but obey God and endured nothing but hardship. Can I get a witness? ;0)
This is kind of like one of those movies or shows where the plot begins in the middle and then goes back to the beginning. We are now back at the top of chapter 18. Now we come back to where we began, the journey up Mt. Carmel and the showdown with the prophets of Baal. I love how chapter 18 begins:
After a long time,
I wonder if Elijah felt forgotten there in the little Airbnb-sized room he occupied on the second floor of the widow’s house. Did he wonder if he heard God wrong? Did God really ever say he would have anything to do with the end of the drought? Did he wonder if he had somehow stepped out of God’s will? Or was he just sequestered and developing the strategic plan to take on the prophets of Baal all this time? Seems unlikely.
After a long time,
Some, perhaps many, of you reading feel this. It’s been a long time. You continue to be faithful to the last thing you heard from the Lord, but you have begun to inquire, “How long Lord?” How long in this painful place of being in between sickness and health, happiness and despair, mourning and dancing, stagnation and progress . . . need I go on? You have been faithful, but you are tired. You have tried your best, but you are almost growing weary of well doing. How long Lord? The question mark has become an exclamation point. You feel a spirit of resignation rising up within you. You try to push it back but it won’t let go. Everyone around you tries to encourage you that this, too, shall pass, that things will get better, that you must persevere. I am tempted to join the chorus, but the Lord gives me another word for you today. Indeed he gives it to me as well. There is really only one way to deal with the spirit of resignation.
The word is relinquishment.
Relinquishment is a faith-filled letting go of everything but God. It is not necessarily divestment though it could be. It is this gloriously challenging work of de-centering from self for the sake of an ever deepening attachment to Jesus. Relinquishment is the end of trying harder and the beginning of the trust-fall. It is the recognition that what got you here won’t get you there. Something tells me these years in obscurity and hardship for Elijah were strategic for this very reason—to lead him to this altar of relinquishment. Before he would repair the altar of the Lord, the Spirit would repair the altar of his heart. It is a faith-filled letting go. I like how Richard Foster speaks of relinquishment:
The Prayer of Relinquishment is a bona fide letting go, but it is a release with hope. We have no fatalist resignation. We are buoyed up by a confident trust in the character of God. Even when all we are able to see is the tangled threads on the backside of life’s tapestry, we know that God is good and is out to do us good always. And that gives us hope to believe that we are the winners regardless of what we are being called upon to relinquish. God is inviting us deeper in and higher up. There is training in righteousness, transforming power, new joys, deeper intimacy. Besides, often we hold so tightly to the good that we do know that we cannot receive the greater good that we do not know. And God has to help us let go of our tiny vision in order to release the greater reality he has in store for us.
As we say goodbye to Sidon and the now faith-filled widow and her back-from-the-dead son, and as we prepare to go forward with Elijah, into yet another degree of glory. Let’s build our own altar of relinquishment today. The future God calls us into will require it. It is not going to get easier—gloriously better but even harder.
This is the way—from glory to glory.
Abba Father, lead me to this next altar. I know I must renounce any hint of a spirit of resignation within me and yet this will only finally die on the altar of relinquishment. Holy Spirit instruct me. Indeed, I already hear you whispering the greatest prayer of relinquishment ever spoken, when he said, “Father, nothing is impossible with you. Take this cup of suffering from me. Yet not my will but your will be done. Praying now in the name of the one who first prayed it, Jesus’ name, amen.
How does this notion of relinquishment strike you? It is the move toward decentering for sure. Let the Spirit search you. He is gentle and patient. Do not fear. He knows you better than you know yourself and wants more for you than you can even imagine.
For the Awakening,