All of us have had them….empty periods of “nothing”…wastelands…seasons “a drift on an open sea of becalmed winds”…when navigation and the Word of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, His fellowship, appeared…impossible…vacant.
Perhaps it was after a tremendous spiritual “high”…a plateau of blissful fellowship or an answer to a desperate prayer…then blankness…darkness…unable to cognitively figure out what you were supposed to do next; praying was especially difficult and you really did not understand why. It just came upon you…stealthily, attacking you from behind or below; you were caught, trapped, unable to move or free yourself. So, you did nothing; you had no heart to do anything.
Remember Elijah? You know, the mighty Prophet of Old that did mighty miracles of the Lord.
Elijah stood up in front of all the people and asked them, “How long will you try to have it both ways? If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal is God, follow him.” The people didn’t say a word. So Elijah told the people, “I’m the only surviving prophet of the LORD, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. Give us two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal choose one for themselves, cut it into pieces, lay it on the wood, but not set it on fire. I’ll do the same with the other bull. “You call on the name of your gods, but I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire is the real God.” All the people answered, “That’s fine.” Elijah told the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves. Prepare yours first, because there are more of you. Call on the name of your god, but don’t set the wood on fire.” They took the bull he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon. They said, “Baal, answer us!” But there wasn’t a sound or an answer. So they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah started to make fun of them. “Shout louder, since he is a god. Maybe he’s thinking, relieving himself, or traveling! Maybe he’s sleeping, and you have to wake him!” So they shouted louder. They also cut themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed. (This is what their ritual called for.) In the afternoon they continued to rant and rave until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no sound, no answer, no attention given to them. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come over here.” So all the people came to him. He rebuilt the LORD’S altar that had been torn down. Elijah took 12 stones, one for each of the tribes named after Jacob’s sons. (The LORD had spoken his word to Jacob: “Your name will be Israel.”) Elijah built an altar in the LORD’S name with those stones. He also made a trench that could hold 12 quarts of grain around the altar. He arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and put it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water. Pour the water on the offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it again,” and they did it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar, and even the trench was filled with water. When it was time to offer the sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward. He said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make known today that you are God in Israel and that I’m your servant and have done all these things by your instructions. Answer me, LORD! Answer me! Then these people will know that you, LORD, are God and that you are winning back their hearts.” So a fire from the LORD fell down and consumed the burnt offering, wood, stones, and dirt. The fire even dried up the water that was in the trench. All the people saw it and immediately bowed down to the ground. “The LORD is God!” they said. “The LORD is God!” Elijah told them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let any of them escape.” The people seized them, and Elijah took them to the Kishon River and slaughtered them there. Then Elijah told Ahab, “Get up, eat, and drink. It sounds like a heavy rain is coming.” Ahab got up to eat and drink. Elijah went to the top of Carmel and bowed down on the ground to pray. He said to his servant, “Please go back to Mount Carmel, and look toward the sea.” He went up, looked, came back, and said, “There’s nothing.” Seven times Elijah told him, “Go back.” After the seventh time the servant said, “A little cloud like a man’s hand is coming from the sea.” Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and leave before the rain delays you.’” Gradually, the sky grew darker with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. Ahab got into his chariot to go back to Jezreel. The LORD’S power was on Elijah. He hiked up his robe and ran ahead of Ahab until they came to Jezreel.
(1 Kings 18:21-46)
How mightily Elijah was used by God! Such incredible faith and trust.
But what happened next?
Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including how he had executed all the prophets. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah. She said, “May the gods strike me dead if by this time tomorrow I don’t take your life the way you took the lives of Baal’s prophets.” Frightened, Elijah fled to save his life. He came to Beersheba in Judah and left his servant there. Then he traveled through the wilderness for a day. He sat down under a broom plant and wanted to die. “I’ve had enough now, LORD,” he said. “Take my life! I’m no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom plant. (1 Kings 19:1-15)
Elijah was attacked with spiritual drought, a moment of total despair and discouragement; and right after an awesome miracle of tremendous power and presence of the Lord! Elijah wanted to die! He had had enough. He wanted to give up, because Jezebel wanted him dead.
But look closely at the Scripture. “Then he lay down and slept under the broom plant.”
Does this sound familiar?
That evening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus along in a boat just as he was. Other boats were with him. A violent windstorm came up. The waves were breaking into the boat so that it was quickly filling up. But he was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat. So they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to die?” Then he got up, ordered the wind to stop, and said to the sea, “Be still, absolutely still!” The wind stopped blowing, and the sea became very calm. He asked them, “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith yet?” They were overcome with fear and asked each other, “Who is this man? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
The disciples were in a spiritual drought (Mark 3:1-5); they had forgotten the miracles Jesus, The Lord, had just performed in their presence. Jesus reply to the Disciples was, “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith yet?”
So where is your faith when spiritual drought comes upon you? What are you to do when there is no desire to believe? How are you to hear the Voice of the Lord (it has never left you or forsaken you, you have just become distracted by the things of this world) over the loudness of worldliness?
The Bible continues in 1 Kings:19:6-18…
An angel touched him (Elijah) and said, “Get up and eat.” When he looked, he saw near his head some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water. So he ate, drank, and went to sleep again. The angel of the LORD came back and woke him up again. The angel said, “Get up and eat, or your journey will be too much for you.” He got up, ate, and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled for 40 days and nights until he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. Then the LORD spoke his word to Elijah. He asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “LORD God of Armies, I have eagerly served you. The Israelites have abandoned your promises, torn down your altars, and executed your prophets. I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to take my life.” God said, “Go out and stand in front of the LORD on the mountain.” As the LORD was passing by, a fierce wind tore mountains and shattered rocks ahead of the LORD. But the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the LORD wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire. But the LORD wasn’t in the fire. And after the fire there was a quiet, whispering voice. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat, went out, and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then the voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “LORD God of Armies, I have eagerly served you. The Israelites have abandoned your promises, torn down your altars, and executed your prophets. I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to take my life.” The LORD told him, “Go back to the wilderness near Damascus, the same way you came. When you get there, anoint Hazael as king of Aram. Anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel. And anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat, from Abel Meholah as prophet to take your place. If anyone escapes from Hazael’s sword, Jehu will kill him. And if anyone escapes from Jehu’s sword, Elisha will kill him. But I still have 7,000 people in Israel whose knees have not knelt to worship Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
(1 Kings 19:6-18)
To hear the Voice of the Lord is to be still and quiet. Droughts will come and go, but the Lord Jesus will always be present. When you realize that you are in a spiritual drought, acknowledge Him and rest in Him; praise Him with your heart, love Him with all of your souls and might.
Jesus is in the whisper…the still small voice. Distraction is your weakness, not His. Jesus will not disturb your distractedness; He is a Gentleman and His burden is light.
Go to sleep in Jesus with your head on His Heart.
Do not hide your face from me. Do not angrily turn me away. You have been my help. Do not leave me! Do not abandon me, O God, my savior! Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will take care of me. Teach me your way, O LORD. Lead me on a level path because I have enemies who spy on me. Do not surrender me to the will of my opponents. False witnesses have risen against me. They breathe out violence. I believe that I will see the goodness of the LORD in this world of the living. Wait with hope for the LORD. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the LORD.
The LORD is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted him, so I received help. My heart is triumphant; I give thanks to him with my song. The LORD is the strength of his people and a fortress for the victory of his Messiah.
Jesus loves you!
Steve J. Cohen