So I signed off last time with a question. What are we doing here?
God asked Elijah that question after he had spent the night in a cave and lived through a massive storm, earthquake and fire.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” [1 Kings 19:11-13]
I have got to tell you, that is one bad night. I imagine it like this; Elijah sets up camp outside in the mountains and gets ready to meet God, he’s probably wearing his best robe and looking as holy as he can, you don’t meet God in ratty old clothes. Maybe he even brought some gifts, I know when I go and meet someone important I like to bring a nice bottle of wine or something, but what do you give God? He not only has, but created everything.
While Elijah is waiting it starts to rain so he moves into a cave, as the storm intensifies outside Elijah get’s comfortable again but then the ground, walls and roof of the cave start to shake so he runs back outside, only to find that a lightning strike has set off a raging forest fire. So he heads back into the cave, just to the edge this time though, so he can get out quick if it start to shake again. While he’s standing there, no doubt kind of freaked out, getting his best robe dirty and wondering what’s taking God so long he hears a quiet voice.
Hearing any kind of voice amidst all of that chaos must have been remarkable enough but I don’t think that’s what really got Elijah’s attention as much as what the voice said. “What are you doing here Elijah?”
Well duh; waiting for you like you said! Then it started to rain, and there was an earthquake and a forest fire and I had to run back and forth to keep dry or keep from being crushed or burned alive! I’m wet, I’m dirty, I just about got killed and where have you been anyway?!?!!
The more I think about this scene I wonder if Elijah really was waiting for God at all or just running around in the wilderness, taking matters into his own hands and trying to stay alive. If it were me, somewhere between the first thunder clap and the first trembler all waiting would be over and I’d be in full on survivor mode. Screw God, I’ve got to take care of myself.
So God shows up in the middle of all this chaos and asks “what are you doing?”
Why did God ask that? Probably because Elijah wasn’t doing what God told him to do. God told Elijah to wait. Wait through the storm, wait through the earthquake and wait through the fire. I am coming, wait for me.
Waiting is hard enough but waiting through the storms and earthquakes of life and continuing to trust in God’s protection is even harder. We all could stand to learn a bit more patience, especially in times of trouble because when God shows up He’s just going to ask us what we’re doing anyway. And honestly, that’s not a question I want to answer.