Today’s Bible passages are: 1 Kings 19, 1 Thessalonians 2, Daniel 1, Psalm 105

10152013_BCBy Brenda Chance

Presumption is a dangerous thing in matters of faith. It’s easy to impose upon God fantastical expectations. History books are filled with examples of God’s failure to come through on man’s ideas of preferred outcomes.

Take Elijah. His life is defined by ten words, “And the word of the Lord came to him…” and “go…” Elijah is a prophet on the strings of God’s purposes.  Extraordinary things happen when Elijah obeys—drought as judgment against King Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 17:1), all-you-can-eat bread from a mini-ration of flour (1 Kings 17:8), raising of the dead (1 Kings 17:22), and showing up the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-41).

God speaks. Elijah obeys.  Signs and wonders fall from heaven. Apparently Elijah heard the same Sunday School lesson I did—the one about the magical formula of faith: God’s command + Man’s obedience=Blessings! Vegas style. Lights flashing. Sirens wailing. People cheering.

I’m right there with Elijah as he takes his victory lap to Jezreel (1 Kings. 18:46). He and I are callin’ out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat? The prophets of Baal are dead; the victory of God is swuh-eet. There’ll be swingin,’ swayin’, and records playin.’ Dancin’ in the street. Jezebel is going down in defeat, there’ll be laughin,’ singin’, and music swingin.’ Dancin’ in the street.

While Elijah is still throwing confetti, Ahab tells Jezebel everything Elijah did. Jezebel’s shriek echoes throughout the kingdom, “Off with his head!”

Slow the party down. What just happened? Elijah isn’t sure either and he’s not waiting around for God to tell him where to go next.

“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life” (1 Kings. 19:3).

Do you blame him? What are you supposed to do when you follow through on your part of the deal, but God doesn’t show up to seal it? God’s command + Man’s obedience = Where’s the blessing? How’s one supposed to react when God can be so wildly disappointing?

Do you still taste the salt from tears you cried wondering why God didn’t show up in power at a moment ripe for his victory? Do you still feel the flush of embarrassment from the time you walked away shamed and shunned by false accusation while the wrongdoers got off scot-free? Does your heart still have cracks from the tremor of the wicked prospering, while the hard working, integrity-filled were laid-off, over-looked, and defeated?

Like Elijah, I’ve wandered into the wilderness of my faith, resolved to let it dry up under the hot desert sun, exclaiming, “It is enough now, O Lord” (1 Kings 19:4). I too have trusted in the idol of favorable outcomes and the god of comfortable predictability.

God doesn’t panic. When we faint, He is steadfast. When we falter, He is sure.

When our faith is despondent, God makes hope so practical: He meets Elijah with bread, water, rest and an appointment for a chat up. He sends Elijah on a forty-day journey to test away his confidence in lesser gods preparing him to meet with God of Unimaginable Expectations, notably on Mount Sinai (1 Kings 19:5-9).

“Then God said to him, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

A whisper—small and thin. Why? He sustains hope on whispers of His majesty. He honors no obligatory strings of public reward in response to our private obedience. He will be the God who He is, not who we want Him to be, doing what we think He ought to be doing. He doesn’t conform to our expectations. We are on His strings; He is not on ours. We are tethered to His eternal plans and purposes.

This means we endure temporary losses, painful disappointments, and unexplainable outcomes. Unfavorable outcomes don’t make God’s commands less wise, or our obedience less necessary. God understands His purposes and blessings better than we do. Be comforted. In exchange for unmet expectations He will give us Himself; He will draw us so close we can hear Him whisper. We are not alone in our disappointment; God remains with us. He is bigger than our expectations and greater than our disappointments.

Elijah must live in the whisper of God’s future shout: Jesus, who’s perfectly {and purely} obedient, who satisfies us with his broken bread and living water, and silences every Jezebelian threat with his victory at Calvary. There will be dancin’ in the street. One day. For now, we can choose to obey with our hope tucked securely in the thin, but oh so deep, pockets of God’s whispered presence and promises.

 

original image credit: Brett Jordan cc

Today’s Question: Do you still taste the salt from tears you cried wondering why God didn’t show up in power at a moment ripe for his victory?…Do you see that Jesus is the shout who fulfills the promise of that whisper? (Respond in the comments.)

BrendaC_200Brenda is passionate for Christ-followers to display God’s words and works as captivatingly beautiful. She has served in various ministerial and nonprofit roles, and is currently working on her M.Div. (at Fuller Theological Seminary) where she is delighting in new discoveries of her Savior and Scripture. She is a regular teacher of Bible studies and a hope coach for the wounded, weary and wandering. Sometimes she does laundry, but only when it’s absolutely imperative. She loves days spent in the garden, sharing a good meal with friends, and the exuberant devotion of her two Basset Hounds. She may or may not have an unhealthy relationship with coffee, chocolate, and book buying. She lives outside of Los Angeles with her husband of twenty-two years and is a mom to two college-age boys who grew up way too fast. She writes about truth, beauty, and God’s goodness at OnceUponATruth.wordpress.com.

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16 Comments

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    gracias a eso, yo te he podido encontrar en google. Muchas gracias por tomarte la molestia de escribirlo :)

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  4. WOW, you are the only one who spoke to me exactly where I am at, disappointed, crushed and a little angry at God. After so many years of following HIM, I still suffer from spiritual post traumatic stress. No preacher of the word today seems to acknowledge this and the Bible is full of weeping and wailing and why, Lord, why? You are a Godsend who lets His kids know that these feelings are not only OK, but are to be expected in this earthly faith walk. You, my sister in faith, gave me HOPE. God speaks through you for sure. God bless you, Bonnie

  5. Even a disposable camera is a great gift to give.

    I’d say that’s a bit of a stretch, not to mention
    a lot to live up to, but I still like the name. For example, your son “David” might like the word “Sport” on the other side of his name blocks.

  6. I love this line: “In exchange for unmet expectations He will give us Himself; He will draw us so close we can hear Him whisper.”

  7. I enjoyed your post today! :-) Thank you!

  8. I’ve always loved this passage, and you brought new wonderful light to it. I loved this line: “Elijah must live in the whisper of God’s future shout.”

  9. Oh, I love this so much. All I can say is “yes” and “amen”!

    • Thank you, Christie. It always amazes me how the so small whisper of Sovereignty can get us back to declaring our “yes” and “amens.” So much grace in His whisper. Thanks for reading and sharing your response.

  10. Okay, can I just say I want to copy this whole piece out in my journal…I think I will copy it if I may to keep so I can re-read in those moments my eyes of faith do not see so well.

    Thank you for these words!

    • Mary, you are welcome! I agree we need to hold onto and save up every remembrance of God’s good sovereignty for when our eyes grow too dim to see the way of faith. i’m glad that this has spoken to you and encouraged you. Thanks for sharing how it touched you. God bless you.

  11. Pingback: When God Disappoints | Once Upon a Truth

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