Sunday, March 22, 2015

Prepared for Change

stop banging on it

First Kings 17:7-10
“And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup that I may drink.”

A while ago we considered the drying up of the Brook Cherith on which Prophet Elijah depended for fresh water supply. We saw that there are many brooks in our lives on which we depend, sometimes to the extent of forgetting the God who is the source and keeper of the brook. God allows our brooks to dry up to make us realize where our source of supply comes from.

When the brook dried-up, God had His reasons for directing His Prophet to Zarephath; Elijah was to learn more lessons in the school of God there. God’s plan for him was relocation – transfer to a new location perhaps with a new ministry and a different source of supply. We all resist change, but sometimes change usher in new visions and new activities. Jesus Himself referring to Elijah’s relocation said in Luke 4:24-26: “Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.  But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;  but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.”

Elijah was getting used to the quiet and peaceful camp at Cherith. The only audience he had were the ravens that brought him meals twice a day. He had a long uninterrupted period of meditation and sleep if he so wished. So the relocation, in many ways, was like transferring to the buggy, noisy and troublesome Lagos. In his new location, he was going to live in very humble surroundings in the home of a poor Gentile widow. Why not a Jewish widow; why a Gentile? God made the choice Himself. That is one of the key lessons Elijah has got to learn. He is not always to choose who his neighbours should be. The Jews so lowly regarded the Gentiles that they often called them dogs. Now, a Gentile widow will have to house and feed the Jewish prophet for the rest of the famine period.

The relocation would also affect his ministry. His ministry would be limited to one woman and her household. And he would have to tolerate a little kid running around the house all day. Elijah was used to a better treatment than that. He was used to a larger audience. He was used to a quieter surrounding. He was not used to having children mess around. It certainly was not the place that Elijah would have chosen to stay.

God may use dried-up brooks to prepare us for change. 

Here God used a dried up brook to motivate His servant to move for his usual place to a new one. God may do the same thing in our lives. We are often very reluctant to change. We sit down to weigh the potential effects of such change; what would be its effect on the children, on our followership and our ministry? What would be the effect on our own persons and on our worth? What of the financial implications? We get so sedentary and stationary and secure with our sources of supply that we cannot even conceive of God wanting to move us into new areas of service or new surroundings for spiritual growth. Sometimes God has to dry up our source of supply so that we are prepared to change.

Sometimes, God dries up our brooks to bring us to a place we are to face real challenges. 

Elijah has been living in the land of Israel and has been having things rather easy. He never had it as he would face in the house of the Zarephath widow. One real situation that Elijah had to face was the death of the widow' son (First Kings 17:17-24). Elijah faced real challenge when the Gentile widow said to him; “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?” In other words, the woman is saying to Elijah; “What type of God do you have Elijah?” The God who is so vindictive that He does not even recognize hospitality? How cruel is your God – the God who takes a widow’s only son? Prove to me that you are a man of God and that your God is a living God!”

No doubt, the challenges of the house of the Zarephath widow prepared Elijah for his encounter with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. What he learnt in the Upper room he declared on the mount top. He learnt to pray believing God to prove that He is God and that Elijah is God’s prophet. He learnt to return action for challenge. You will see that the challenge of the death of the widow’s son moved Elijah when you read his initial attitude to it. He turned to his God in prayer and said, “Then he cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” But God is not going about bringing tragedies. Everywhere He goes, He does good. The result of this seeming tragedy is a resounding affirmation that Elijah is a prophet of God, and that his God is God indeed. The Zarephath widow aptly summarized the effect in these words: “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.”

Is it possible that you have been relying too much on certain brooks that God has given that you are not prepared for any changes that He might have for you now or in the near future? Do not be surprised if the Lord allows one of your favourite brooks to dry up. This does not mean that God is mad at you! In fact, we can be sure that if the Lord permits any job, or activity or relationship to dry up in our lives, it is for our best interest in the long run. His word still says: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) This includes dried-up brooks and we should in all things give thanks. 

God bless you all. Share your thoughts

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