Regarding my post last week about my new book contract, my friend, Rhonda wrote this (used by permission), “I feel as though I’ve seen this coming, almost like a motor you hear on the next street over approaching nearer. Or like . . . (hearing) the rain falling through the trees before it ever arrives in your yard. . . “
When I read that phrase about the rain falling, I could only think of a story in 1 Kings, which contains verses beside which in my Bible I've written, “Long been praying.”
In 1 Kings 16, we read of an evil king, Ahab, who rose up to rule Israel. It is said this king did more to anger the Lord than “all the kings of Israel before him.” Because of this, the prophet, Elijah, declared to Ahab “. . . there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Then the Lord told Elijah to get out of Dodge and hide in the Kerith Ravine (well, not exactly), where ravens would provide food for him. After the brook he had been drinking from dried up, God directed him to Zarephath. A widow there would provide his needs.
Elijah met the widow who was gathering sticks and asked her for bread and water.
She replied, “As surely as the Lord your God lives. . . I don’t have any bread―only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it ―and die” (I Kings 17:12).
Elijah’s response to her is underlined and starred with dates beside it in my Bible. “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. First, make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says; ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land” (1 Kings 17:13-14).
Scarcity can come in many ways―financially, creatively, relationally, even spiritually, we can feel we, too, are living in the Kerith Ravine and the stream has dried to dust.
The stars beside I Kings 17:14 in my Bible mark times when in some way, life seemed a desert, and God challenged me to believe him that in whatever way I felt a lack, as long as I served Him first, He would provide.
It’s hard to believe when metaphorically you fear your lips will be parched and your stomach will be growling, but sometimes God allows us to get in that place.
And sometimes it can last awhile.
For Elijah and the widow, it was three long years of trusting God for their daily provision.
There’s so much more to this story, but in Chapter 18, God made such a serious demonstration of his presence and power, the people of Israel at last cried out, “The Lord―He is God.”
Elijah could then deal with the evil that had been in the land. That’s when he heard it, “. . . there is the sound of a heavy rain.” He repeatedly sent a servant up on Carmel to check for clouds, and on the seventh time, he saw a “. . . cloud as a small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.”
The next part of the story reads like this in The Message, “Things happened fast. The sky grew black with wind-driven clouds, and then a huge cloudburst of rain, with Ahab hightailing it in his chariot for Jezreel. And God strengthened Elijah mightily . . . (Elijah) ran in front of Ahab’s chariot until they reached Jezreel.” (I Kings 18:45-46).
The rain didn’t come in drips and drops, and it didn't come slow. It came fast and in torrents, and even after that time of what seemed meager provision, God strengthened Elijah so much that he outran Ahab’s chariot.
Last week seemed a time of blessed downpour here at our house after a long drought, but the rain is coming and continues to come. That time of waiting and watching has hopefully made us stronger than we were before.
So my friends, if you too, find yourself in a place of seeming drought, remember these verses and like Elijah and my friend Rhonda, listen up for that “sound of heavy rain.” I close with this quote from C.H. Spurgeon, “Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! For God fails thee not.”