The Danger of Isolation and What We Can Learn From a Prophet-Part 3 of 3

photo by Creative Commons Lokesh_Dhakar

This week I began sharing about my struggle with learning how to lean on people again, (finding safe people, I believe is the trick and I believe God will give us the discernment in this area if we ask), I began sharing how I came to this realization through Elijah’s own “lone wolf” mentality:

(Cont.)

…the Heavenly Father comes to Elijah like a good father would come to his son, tenderly, patiently, with love: in a gentle whisper, reassuring Elijah, that he is listening and he does love him and that he wants him to keep going.

God is listening, but he doesn’t allow Elijah to wallow, because he has very specific plans and instructions for him, instructions to get help, to anoint kings and to anoint Elisha as his successor. 
Here, God is bringing Elijah into a new phase, unlike those times of past, he is now asking him to enter a time a communion, fellowship and mentorship.
From all of this, I get these two things: that rest is essential and so is community.  God calls us to big things.  HUGE things in fact, but he also offers rest, and in Elijah’s case, he had to be reminded how important community and fellowship needed to be in his life.
We know that Elijah saw himself as a lone wolf and in fact he was, because the words “and I am the only one left” come twice in his conversation on the mountain with God.  Not only has he felt the physical strain of standing up to his enemies being threatened and subsequently running about 250 miles, he is tired and lonely–lonely for a fellow worker to convince him that though he wore animal skins and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8) and seemed more than just a little crazy, he was not alone. 
We have to hold on to who God is, and in order for us to remain refreshed and encouraged we must seek out the body of believers.  It’s a lesson that I’m learning and one I’ve really had to apply this last year.    I am not, you are not crazy.  There are other people out there wearing animal fur and preaching the word of the Lord, or in my case, there are other single moms out there who are trying to hold fast to the Word of God and make sure their children are too.  I had to place myself in a single mom’s Sunday school class, remain in a Bible study, and be vulnerable with people I knew I could trust and whom I knew I would see every week.  Community doesn’t have to be people in your exact life situation, but it helps to have people who know where you are coming from, at least, that’s were I’ve felt the safest.
Yes, community is sticky and can sometimes get ugly and is, but is oftentimes very beautiful too.  Group dating is the bigger picture, it’s about recognizing your gifts, offering them to those around you and if they sometimes get thrown back into your face, trampled on, or ignored, that’s ok, you still need these people anyway.  We do not grow in isolation, we cannot experience the highs of victory, nor can we face the intimidating giants of trials in isolation, we need to know that we have friends supporting and loving us, bringing our requests on the Father’s behalf in more objective ways than our own to know that no, we are not the only ones left. 

The Danger of Prolonged Isolation and What We Can Learn From a Prophet-Part 2 of 3

photo by Creative Commons Lokesh_Dhakar

Yesterday I began sharing about my struggle with learning how to lean on people again, (finding safe people, I believe is the trick and I believe God will give us the discernment in this area if we ask), I began sharing how I came to this realization through Elijah’s own “lone wolf” mentality:

(Cont.)
When Elijah’s God proved himself real and faithful, Elijah seized the false prophets and killed them.

And then God then sent rain.  And Elijah ran all the way to Israel, ahead of Ahab, to Jezreel.  When Jezebel, Ahab’s wife and originator of all things Baal-centered got wind of all the killing that Elijah had done, she sent a death threat to Elijah, “May the gods deal with me, bet it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”  (referring to the dead prophets). Elijah ran for his life and went to Beersheba, in Judah, leaving his servant there and continued another day’s journey into the desert.  Here he comes to a tree, heaves himself down and asks God to kill him, “I have had enough Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (I Kings 19: 4).
Been there. 
The fight is hard; there is persecution on all sides.   It is physically exhausting and mentally draining and you want it to stop, thinking it would be easier if we just didn’t have to go through it at all–take me now. 
In shear exhaustion, Elijah falls asleep. 
An angel appears to Elijah with food and drink and encourages him to refresh himself.  He gets up, eats and drinks and then lies back down again.  The angel comes back a second time, touches Elijah and says to him, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”  Elijah does just that, this refreshed him to the point that he could travel 40 days and forty nights to Mount Horeb where God has another word waiting for him. 
In our journey, there are going to be some really scary, physically and emotionally taxing things that God asks us to do: obey, confront, stand firm and see the deliverance of God.  Even when we see the miraculous, we falter, and we become afraid.  God understands this, because, as we see in James 5:17, Elijah was a man just like us! 
But here is a critical point in the story of Elijah, the point that I want you to come away with, when God appears to Elijah at Horeb, they have a conversation, twice God asks Elijah what he is doing there.   Elijah explains that he has been very zealous for God to a people who have no reverence for him.  He goes on to say that all of the other prophets have fallen by the sword, he is the only one left and that they are trying to kill him too, and in a powerful act of wind, earthquake and fire, all sent from the Lord, the Heavenly Father comes to Elijah like a good father would come to his son, tenderly, patiently, with love: in a gentle whisper, reassuring Elijah, that he is listening and he does love him and that he wants him to keep going.
Part 3 tomorrow…

The Danger of Prolonged Isolation and What We Can Learn From a Prophet -Part 1 of 3


photo by Creative Commons Lokesh_Dhakar

“I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.  The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.  I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”  (I Kings 19:10, NIV) Does that refrain sound slightly familiar?  Do we see ourselves as the “only” one going through a particular trial?  Have we isolated ourselves to that extent? 

Independence can sometimes be disguised as pride, at least, in my case, it has.  It’s something I’ve had to face head-on recently.  For the last few years, it’s true that I’ve had to dive in on a lot of things: a new life stage, single parenting and eventually, now, co-parenting.  It hasn’t been easy, I felt like, many times, that I was this lonely pioneer, forging a new territory, confident that if I cut myself, all it took was a decent tourniquet and a little bit of Neosporin and I could keep on trucking.  I had cordoned myself off, thinking that no one else understood where I was coming from, but it was through yet another trial that forced me to come to the end of myself and rely on the body of believers for their prayers and moral support that I realized that God wasn’t asking me to do this by myself.  
Upon receiving some teaching from I Kings, I was reminded just how important community really is and how much we can learn from the prophet Elijah’s example…
The time of the kings was a pretty messy one for the Israelites.  For years, they begged God for a leader like the nations around them, not realizing that here they had the perfect King of Kings guiding and instructing them…nevertheless, God relented and gave them over to these men, but it didn’t take long for these kings to corrupt God’s chosen nation and lead them into idol worship.  Prophets were sent to these kings to warn them of God’s judgment.
Enter Elijah. 
During King Ahab’s reign (the latest in a long line of kings who chose to marry foreign wives, thereby introducing false gods into the mix), he “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” I Kings 16:30.
So, scripture says, as judgment for turning the people’s heart from the one, true God, there would be a drought, per Elijah’s prayers. 
But in this, God protected his chosen prophet, first by having ravens bring him daily food and then provision through a widow.  God performed miracle after miracle in Elijah’s life during the three-year drought.
Scripture says, “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah.” instructing him to go back.  Whah?  Yes, go back, because God was going to use those years of complete reliance on him and extremely close communion with him (brought about by his social isolation) to have him do his greatest work yet: prove to Ahab that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the only God.  So the impossible got to be even more so, even a little bit scary, because in an effort to prove the existence of their false god, Baal’s prophets were cutting themselves, desperate for a sign from heaven to prove that their god was real and was listening to them, when Yahweh had only had to lick up a drenched altar in a flaming second to prove how mighty he is.  When Elijah’s God proved himself real and faithful, Elijah seized the false prophets and killed them.
To be continued…

Common Ground–Common Good?

I stood on the porch of the replicated slave quarters behind the Smith Family Farm house at the Atlanta History Center on Veteran’s Day, the day that’s a “celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.” and my stomach churned as a looked across the broken place in the fence around the small plot that shared cabbage and cotton plants.  It was almost as if the buildings were haunted with the souls that, morning after morning had risen to work in the semi-dark with no hope that things would ever change, their fingers cracked and bleeding with cold and pricks from sharp tips around the cotton bolls.



Glimpsing inside and seeing a pile of blankets on the floor of the cabin and my spirit grew heavy, in anger, in sympathy, rage and I wanted to go back in time to erase it all, the spirituals the men and women had to sing just to get through the sheer exhaustion and hopelessness of labor without sign of deliverance. and my heart broke once again that this is still happening all over the world.  How can we do all to stand when we don’t stand in the first place?  

We educate a woman. 

We empower a family.  

We buy her product.  

We make our friends aware.  We speak with the power that we do have, the voice that we tuck away because we are too busy or too afraid, or we think that no one cares.

We defend the widow.

We make it so one more girl does not need to be sold.

We understand that hearts bleed too, when families have to be separated, women spending entire days away from her children so that they can have something to eat while mommy is away.

We understand that maternal support starts at the beginning.

What can you do to sacrifice for the common good?