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.”
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.
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.
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,