We see in 1 Kings chapter 19 as Elijah stands outside the cave, God gives him instructions. He is to anoint two new kings and also anoint Elisha as his successor. I wonder how he felt about this. He and God had had quite a history together. The list of events was quite impressive – fed by ravens when there was a drought, being used by God to give oil to the widow at Zarephath and restoring her son back to life. Then there was the run-in he had with Ahab on Mount Carmel and finally fleeing for his life.
Then God tells him, his time is nearly over. He has to anoint his successor. Elisha is the prophet who will now be in the limelight. How did he feel about that? Was he resentful, wanting to remind God of all that he had done for Him? Why couldn’t he continue being the man that God using in the confrontations with Baal worship?
I think of my own life. As I get older and not so fit and strong, various Christians tasks I have been involved in are now being handed over to others. I’m not always as happy and gracious as Elijah was. I want to be in the middle of the action. I don’t want to be on the side lines and forgotten. I suppose this is just another lesson that God is teaching me.
I’ve been pleased over the last few days to take part in a national butterfly count in this country. Butterflies are in decline and this survey will record how they are doing. The idea is to sit for fifteen minutes and record every butterfly and moth we see. My sightings were mostly red admirals and cabbage whites but it was a lovely excuse to sit in quiet surroundings and relax.
I have started a wild flower garden though at the moment it is a wild grass garden. This is because the underlying grass was in such a good condition that the wild flowers couldn’t get a hold. We’ve now planted wild flower plug and I live in hopes of a lovely wild flower garden. Maybe it will be next year before it starts to bloom.
When Ii walk out into the garden in the early morning, I disturb dozens of little white moths. Not as beautiful as butterflies but evidence that nature is doing it’s stuff and I’m sure it helps the cycle of nature.
In my gardening I’m coming to realise that plants planted in the wrong place won’t thrive. They’ll probably live but they will not give of their best. If the label says plant in a shady place, that is the correct place for that particular plant or flower. Where i am told plant in full sunlight, that is where it needs to be.
In one of my first gardens I had a crescent shaped bed and decided to plant the flowers following the colours of the rainbow. The patch went from full shade at one end to fully exposed sun at the other. I soon discovered that not all red flowers will grow well in the shade and that not all violet coloured flowers will do their best in full sunlight.
I now follow the instructions on the label and my garden is better for it. I suppose we’re the same. We will not thrive in the wrong environment. To do our best we need to be where God has placed us.
As life gets faster and faster we become more and more distracted. We have to multitask to complete everything we need to do. This probably means we don’t do anything properly. As we do one job, we are thinking of the next one and the one after that. We are achieving less and less and we can become overwrought.
Admiration is given to those who achieve many things in life. Those who are ‘high flyers’ are praised in the media, only for the fact that they have achieved a lot. The quality of their achievement is not always considered.
While there is some merit in this attitude to life, it is not something we need to carry over into our spiritual life. When we pray our minds can dart from one thing to another. Our full attention is not on God and worshipping Him. The Bible says in the psalms, ‘My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.’
In my garden I have four small solar lights. They don’t throw out much light, but at night time they make that part of the garden look pretty. I love looking at them before I go to bed. Of course, they only work because they’ve been boosted by the sun’s rays during the day. In winter time they are unlikely to be giving out much light.
The secret of the solar lights is the sun. Like our Christian lives. Without our heavenly Son, our feeble efforts would be worth little. We need to be topped up daily by the Son. It is daily that we need help.
There are probably times, like Elijah, when we are looking for God in the wrong place. This prophet was used to seismic things happening in his life. He had massive run ins with Ahab and incurred the deadly wrath of Jezebel. There had been the devastating drought in Israel, brooks drying up and people starving. He had waited as God brought down fire on the altar when God was pitted against Baal.
Although in hiding in a cave Elijah was still linking God with mighty happenings. He felt a great and powerful wind but ‘God was not in the wind. ‘ The wind was followed by and earthquake but ‘God was not in the earthquake.’ For the fire that followed, Elijah was on familiar ground. God and he had dealt with fire before. ‘But ‘God was not in the fire.’
Elijah was looking in the wrong places. Then came a gently whisper. That was where God was and often that is where He is for us.
This psalm is probably the best known of all the psalms in our Bible. It shows God’s gentle and considerate regard for those who are battered by life.
Having recently had a period of poor health I’ve been cheered by the words ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’ (you can see I was brought up in the days of the King James Version!) In all my recent difficulties I have lacked nothing. God has been kind to me allowing me and all in need to lie down in green pastures. There are times in life when all we are capable of doing is lying down and sleeping. But then life can’t remain like this, as God gently leads us by the still waters and refreshes our souls.
We need to keep moving as He leads us along the right paths, stops us taking the wrong way. But life has darkness as well as light. In the very worst of times, death of loved ones, we need fear no evil for He will be with us.
It is being proved at the present time that in times of trouble, our greatest needs are rest and food, rest and food. Many retreats are based on this pretext. And God Himself will prepare for us a table, even in the presence of enemies.
The psalm concludes with shouts of praise. Our cup overflows as goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life. While after that, we will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Bring it on!
Many nations of the world have been gripped by football. Suddenly football is the one thing on everyone’s mind. Crowds have been mixing and mingling (sometimes without enough care) and euphoria is high. Thousands if not millions are over the moon.
But what about the millions who aren’t? In football, for every winner there is a loser. From children playing on the village green to world matches, one team wins and one team loses. (unless it’s a tie, and then there are no winners) Those who laugh and cheer are balanced by those who weep and cry. So congratulations to the winners and commiserations to the losers.
Following God does not have winners and losers. For everyone who wishes, they can become winners. To follow Christ makes one a winner. No-one needs to lose. So, yes football is great, but I know of an even better game.
I realise that in my country we don’t know anything about droughts, but sometimes we do long for rain to freshen things up. My friend and I have been watering my garden to keep the plants thriving. Although we water carefully the result is never as good as when God sends rain. Heaven-sent watering is the best.
Like life, I suppose. Our efforts are never as good as God’s It is like that if we have to have a limb replaced or some artificial part put into our bodies, such as heart. Our surgeons are extremely talented but the replaced part is never as good as God’s. We can make artificial plants and lawns, again never as good as God’s He is. definitely the master craftsman.
The angel makes it very clear to Zechariah the purpose of his son’s life when he says ‘he will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ This was the main purpose of the life of John the Baptist and this was something he spent his life doing. Until his untimely death he prepared the way of the Lord.
John was born for a purpose as was Moses who led the Israelites out of Egypt. Jesus was born with a purpose; to die on the cross for our sins. Each of us are born for a purpose. It may take us a lifetime to discover our purpose and reason for living. Our life is not a mistake, it is part of God’s plan. To discover our purpose in life we need to prayer, study the Bible and enquire of other Christians. Our way will become clearer until we can hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’