We often joke about men and our unwillingness to ask for directions. I have been in that position more than a few times. I can’t explain why, but there seems to be something inside that continually believes that I can find the right way if just given a little more time. I am sure that this is an issue of pride, not wanting to admit to not being in control, but I also believe that it often turns into an issue of trusting and being trusted. Many of us find our identities in things that are variable, meaning that we put our confidence in people, places or circumstances that are destined to change. The problem that this causes is that when our place of confidence is shaken so is everything about us. We end up questioning our relationships, our abilities, and even our beliefs. It is in this place that many of us are tempted to give up, to simply stop trying and to just choose to exist without any expectancy of joy, fulfillment, peace or abundance. At that moment the enemy has done his job in our lives, he may not be able to remove us from God’s hands but he is able to cause us to become so lifeless and cynical that we are no longer vibrant, useful extensions of those hands. The path of our lives was chosen and set out by God. Along the path there will be obstacles, will be testing and will even be people telling you that you have chosen the wrong way. The key to fulfillment is not an easy path or the ability to change on the fly, it is a willingness to trust, to believe that God has ordered our steps and that His presence will never fade. When your journey seems to be too much for you it doesn’t mean you have gone the wrong way, it might just mean that God is about to show you Himself.
Elijah is considered one of, if not the greatest prophet of Israel. He lived in a time in which the people had rejected God and chosen false idols. He served God when the King and Queen of God’s people rejected Him. His calling was to be God’s mouthpiece, but to do so he had to believe in God more than ever before. Elijah’s first call to ministry was to go before King Ahab and to announce that a drought would begin at that moment and that it would not rain again until Elijah said so. From that moment he went to hide, directed by the Spirit of God. James and Luke tell us that it did not rain for 3 ½ years. During that time Elijah hid by a brook, drank it’s water and was fed by ravens each day. When the brook dried up God directed him to a widow’s home. This was not the home of a wealthy widow that had been left with more than she ever needed, no, God led him to a widow that was desperate and destitute. In fact, she was so poor and so depressed that she reasoned that she would make her last loaf of bread and then she and her son would starve to death together. Elijah told her that God said that if she would feed the man of God there would always be enough for her and her son and sure enough, for a long period of time, every day there was enough for all three of them to eat. After 3 ½ years God told Elijah that it was now time for the drought to end. Elijah followed the leading of the Spirit of God and called for all of the people of Israel to join him on Mt. Carmel, along with all of the false prophets. The challenge was simple, Elijah would prepare a sacrifice for God and the prophets would prepare one for their gods. They would then all call on their gods and the one that sent fire from heaven to receive the sacrifice would be declared the true God and would be worshipped. The prophets of Baal went first and they prayed and shouted and called on their god all day but nothing ever happened. When Elijah’s turn came he called on God and fire was sent from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. I Kings 18 says that the people of Israel fell on the faces and declared “The Lord He is God! The Lord He is God!” By the end of that day the sky grew dark and the clouds opened and for the first time in years, it rained.
This is the victory that Elijah is known for. God proved Himself, Elijah killed all the prophets of Baal and the drought ended. Sometime very shortly thereafter, Jezebel heard the entire story of what had happened and she was irate. She had a message sent to Elijah that threatened that she would have him killed in the same way he killed her prophets by the next day. At this moment, after great victories, fulfilled prophesies and divine favor, Elijah decides that he has had enough. This obstacle is more than he is willing to bear, her response is not what he had planned and prepared for and so he ran away. He traveled for a day and at that point he laid down under a tree and prayed that he would die, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Have you ever been to that point? Ever decide that this is enough, the last straw might not have been the biggest one but it was definitely going to be the last one? Maybe you didn’t hope to die but you did decide that you were finished. You would not try to fix it, try to change it, try to help, or even love any longer? Have you ever decided that it was just too hard? I know I have. I have expected certain results and not gotten them and then decided that I was finished. I believe that Elijah was shocked by Jezebel’s response, that he was sure that finally she would worship God, finally she would see her folly and finally he could live in peace. When she threatened him I don’t believe he ran away because he was afraid of her, I believe he ran away because he was done dealing with her. This was no longer the path he wanted to follow, he would rather run away and pray for death than have to keep contending with her opposition.
We will all be opposed at some point. There will be times it comes from people that we don’t put stock in and so it will not deter us. There will be times when it comes from those that we love most and it will cause us to question what we believe God has spoken into our lives. There will even be times in which the opposition comes from within us, we will be afraid, anxious, or even unwilling; these are the times in which we need the Holy Spirit the most. Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to men, but in the end it leads to death.” Do you know why God orders the steps of the righteous? Because our best plans and best ways still only lead us to death. God is ordering a path that we would have never been able to consider because He is doing a work that we are not capable of imagining. When God led Israel out of Egypt He took them to the Red Sea. God knew the sea was there, He also knew the Egyptian army was going to chase them. God planned all of this, He does not improvise and He is not reacting to problems, He is always working. God did something miraculous for Israel, even in the path He planned. God made a way for Israel to learn that He could do anything for them, even open a Sea, and also that He would not merely protect them but even destroy their enemies. He knew they would run out of water, He wanted them to learn that He could even bring water from rocks for them. He knew they would run out of food, He wanted them to learn that He could even make heaven rain bread for them. God put Israel in positions in which they had no choice but to trust Him. He is doing the same thing for you and me. Obstacles are not opportunities for us to show our ingenuity, they are opportunities for us to learn to trust God in a greater measure.
After Elijah prayed to die, he fell asleep. An angel woke him up and told him to eat the bread and drink the water that had been prepared for him. Elijah ate and drank and then fell asleep again, the angel woke him again and told him to eat and drink once more and then shared this, “the journey is too great for you.” The truth of the matter is that we are all on a journey that is greater than we are capable of fulfilling on our own. The path that God chose for me and for you is much different than the one we might have chosen for ourselves, or that those who love us might have chosen for us. Life is not supposed to be about us fulfilling our goals, it is supposed to be about us trusting God enough to fulfill His. God told Jeremiah the He knew him before he was born and that He had appointed him as a prophet to the nations before he was even conceived. God has known our paths from before there was time. He has chosen us for something and something for us. He is not a cosmic GPS that is set to lead us in an obstacle-free journey, He is a loving Father that has planned a journey that will build character, produce fruit, test faith, perfect trust and bring Him glory and us joy. The cliché is that “the joy is in the journey”, it really is true, because the presence of God is in the journey, the love of God is in the journey, the peace of God is in the journey and the provision of God is in the journey. God has not promised us a safe road, but He has promised that He will always be on the road with us. I encourage you today to put down your plans and your directions. Trust God, His voice and His Word and travel not merely down the road less traveled, but the one that has been chosen for you. Remember always, Jesus doesn’t merely show us how to get to our destination, He declared, “I am the Way”, and His Way is always good.