It’s Tuesday in Zarephath

8

1 Kings 17:7–11 (NIV)

Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

CONSIDER THIS

Isn’t this just amazing? The journey from glory to glory passes through a dried up ravine on the way to the impoverished home of a widow. Are you picking up the trend here? Just as the Word of the Lord to Elijah was:

I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

The Word of the Lord to Elijah is now:

I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.

The pathway from glory to glory is the not the quest to do great things in the world for God; rather it is the pathway of God becoming great our own lives. It is the path where we learn to renounce our well intended grandiose and often narcissistic ambitions and embrace our smallness and finitude. This pathway of the ever-increasing glory is one of knowing God in increasing measure which leads to knowing ourselves in increasing measure which leads to the kind of humility becoming the greatness of God manifest through the goodness of a human life. the.

On this Tuesday in Zarephath, Elijah is getting to know God as provider in the only way one ever really gets to know God as provider: through being in desperate need. Elijah finds himself in one place that is actually two places: The big story and the small story. In the bigger story, Elijah is on his way to Mt. Carmel and the great showdown which, as we have already seen, ends up in the fire-falling victory of Yahweh. In the smaller story, Elijah is stuck in Zarephath, begging as it were from a widow. Two places that are one place: the big story and the small one; the promise and the problems; indeed the glory and the glory. 

This past Sunday, I attended a service of worship in a brilliantly designed sanctuary in my home church. Around the perimeter of the room were a series of emblazoned signs, each declaring one of the glorious names of God:

El Roi: The God who sees us.
Yahweh Shalom: The Lord our Peace.
Yahweh Rohi: The Lord is our Shepherd
Yahweh Nissi: The Lord our Banner.
Yahweh Rophe: The Lord our Healer.
Yahweh Yireh: The Lord our Provider

Notice the comprehensive nature of the names (and there are so many more throughout Scripture). These are not theoretical concepts or philosophical constructs. These are storied realities that have come to us through sacred historical revelation. In the very center of the platform stood a cross, whose beams stretched out as though linking the sign posts together in a complete circle; enfolding the congregation within their circumference.

Week after week, our worship gatherings are meant to help us re-enter this story and become re-centered inside of this God, fanning into flame again and again the fire of his presence within and among us. Fittingly, on the altar were two fiery flames; not neatly trimmed candles, but fiery pillars of flame. 

This way from glory to glory, of transformational grace, passes through many dried up ravines and seeming God-forsaken places only to become the altars of revelation where God sees us and meets us at our point of need for peace, guidance, healing, and provision. All of this is meant to lead us by stage and degree from God as our help to God as our home. This way, however, necessarily passes through many dangers, toils and snares. We will explore perhaps the greatest snare of our time tomorrow. 

This is the way—from glory to glory. 

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we have knowledge of the vastness of your name and the implications of who you are, but our knowing has not yet caught up. We know to increase our knowing will require some struggle and discomfort. Holy Spirit, we are willing to be weaned off of so many so-called comforts that we might truly know you as The Comforter. Transform our knowledge into knowing, even through the hardest trials and most challenging circumstances. Praying in Jesus’ name, amen. 

THE QUESTION

How would you articulate the big story and the small story in your life right now? Is the story you see obscuring the story you can’t see? What gives? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

8 COMMENTS

  1. In many ways, my understanding of the Christian faith journey has evolved over my adult life. Looking back, I can see now, that my faith was immature and static. To grow in one’s faith requires some sort of faith crisis that creates the need to rethink one’s relationship with God and fellowship with other believers. In my case it revealed a rather shallow surface type of faith. It required spending some time in the wilderness to realize my true need to seek some type of small group ministry in order to grow spiritually. God has used these trials to form me into who I am today. I haven’t arrived yet to where I want to be, but at least I’m on the Way. Thank God for trials and testing.

  2. The bigger story is life eternal in the glory of God.
    Right now, the smaller story is being in a new deep-dried ravine is that my son-in-law has chosen to be transgender. My daughter is ok with this decision and has also informed the family that she is a bi-sexual. Sadly, two boys are caught in this net. Oh, the emotions one has! From anger to frustration, to sadness, to compassion. They know my stance as I have lovingly and factually talked to them about Jesus and life many times in the past. Though I disagree with this choice, I empathize with them as they struggle with their identity, and their search for love, acceptance, and security. Which voice are they listening to?
    The boys seem fine, but are they? What can I do? I can’t change their minds, but Jesus can change their hearts! Me? I need to love them as Christ loved me when I was an addict, alcoholic, and adulterer. I need to love them like Jesus is loving them now!
    When this choice crumbles, as all choices outside of God’s design do because the soul will not know peace until it knows the Prince of Peace, I pray that they will hear Jesus knocking on their door and invite Him in. And that they will discover their real identity. A Child of God.
    They need prayer! God’s intervention. Either by ravens, widows, angels, or His spoken Word, send Your Way so they discover you are the Way to true love, joy, and peace.
    Lord, keep knocking!
    Please pray.
    Staying 💪’n Christ,
    Doc

    • I know your heart is breaking, Doc. I have a daughter who has been caught up in addiction and rebellion for more than a decade. She is single with no children and my heart aches for her. She is in a 6-month residential rehab now and desperately needs a life-changing encounter with Jesus. I pray that both your daughter and son-in-law have a Damascus Road experience with the living Jesus and find their true identity in Him, and that God supernaturally carry and strengthen you and the rest of your family in this time of trial.

    • Oh, Doc. You and your family are in my prayers. I pray your love for them will be the perfect love of Jesus. Not easy on our own, but Christ is in you and the Holy Spirit will empower you.
      Thank you for sharing what must be so hard to share. Praying!

  3. The Bible’s ” Big Story” is that all human hearts are out of synch with the living God, yet He came to humanity as a human being as Jesus Christ to restore people’s connection to Him. The “Small Story” is that Jesus has been in working in me for decades to realign my life and will to God’s.

    Our human choices to think, speak, and act contrary to God’s will cause our heart (our innermost being) to be out of sync with Him. This is spiritual heart arrhythmia. It causes us to be at odds with God.

    Physical heart arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat. It is treated by what’s called heart ablation. Heart ablation uses heat energy to burn tiny scars in the heart that block irregular electrical signals and restore a healthy heartbeat. My brother had the procedure and it worked wonders for him.

    Paul of Tarsus said: “I bear on my body the marks (scars) of Jesus.” (See Galatians 6:17.) The prophet Jeremiah predicted that there would come a time when God would write His laws on people’s hearts. (See Jermiah 31:33.) This is the process of sanctification that is taught throughout the New Testament. Once people come to the living Jesus and surrender to Him, He begins to work inside of them to change them from glory to glory (step by step) into His image.

    Even Jesus, the Son of God, “learned obedience from what He suffered.” (See Hebrews 5:8.) The way to sanctification (growth into holiness) runs through trials and scars. It’s not handed us on a silver platter. It’s free, but it’s not an easy process. “Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24.)

    We need to humbly surrender to God’s process of spiritual heart ablation. We need to let Him lead us into and through humbling and difficult circumstances, trusting, honoring, serving, and obeying Him as we go. We need to let
    His spiritual fire burn in our hearts so that His scars can realign us to His will deep within our heart.

    “So set a fire down in my soul
    That I can’t contain and I can’t control
    I want more of You God, I want more of You God.”
    –Will Reagan and United Pursuit

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