Elijah is known for many things in the Bible. He was a prophet, defender of God over all other idols and God even performed miracles for him like bringing back a boy from the dead, raining fire from the heavens. He didn’t even die, but was taken up by a whirlwind instead. My point is, he was quite the man (or prophet) of God. So when I read four little words in this one verse after reading the story of God reviving the dead boy after Elijah’s prayers (1 Kings 17) I stopped dead in my tracks.
After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: “Go and present yourself to Ahab. I will send rain on the surface of the land.” 1 Kings 18:1
Did you see it? He said, “After a long time.”
Quickly, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “How did Elijah feel during that time of not hearing from the Lord?” Have you ever experienced those times where God seems to have put us on hold and is taking everyone’s call but ours? Or those times when you have prayed so hard for something and feel as if all your prayers are hitting a blockade before they can reach God’s ears? What about the times we just can’t feel His presence like we have in the past or He seems to have dropped us off in the middle of a hurricane and left us without any provisions?
I wonder if Elijah ever felt like that? Here we have a man of God, a prophet, who God has been so close to, revealed weather patterns to him and listened so closely to his prayers He raised a boy from the dead and then . . . . silence for “a long time”. God went silent on Elijah. I wonder if he felt like I have when those desert times have hit. Did he fell vulnerable and lonely? Did he wonder if he had done something wrong or had some sin in his heart he hadn’t confessed? Did he think his purpose for God’s kingdom had been fulfilled and God had moved on to the next person to do the prophesying?
I know that when I go through times like Elijah experienced, a short time can feel like an eternity, but it’s always a great reminder of how much I rely on God in my life and how much His presence and gentle whisper mean to me and guide me. I can’t say I’m always ready to respond to Him with wild abandon, but I yearn to serve Him and seek Him and His ways. When I can’t sense Him it stirs my soul and I begin to seek Him more and more. As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, God. (Psalm 2:1) He is always close, but maybe that is why He quiets himself from time to time. To stir our hearts, create appreciation, desire and open our eyes to how much we truly need Him in our lives from day-to-day.