Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Key to Elijah's Blooming

I haven’t written in so long, a fact that saddens me to no end.  In September, while I was still undergoing Chemo, I accepted the privilege of being a Bible Study Fellowship children’s leader.  I am so happy to be back in the loving embrace of a wonderful group of ladies and I am thoroughly enjoying being a children’s leader.  It has been tough though trying to balance all the responsibilities of being a mother, wife, and all my medical appointments.  God is faithful, though and there has not been any times where I haven’t been able to serve because of my illness.  It is true that when he asks you to serve, he equips you and provides everything you need to succeed.  You just have to say yes.  With that said, it is not because of BSF that I haven’t written, because, truth be told, I could have easily given up an hour or two of television to write.  The lesson I taught this week (for BSFJ) convicted me that I need to be using my talents to build up the body of Christ, not just for my own pleasure.  Surely the truths that the Lord has blessed me with He intends for me to pass on.  So here it goes. . . .

What does it mean to bloom where you are planted?  It means growing in Christ even under the most trying of circumstances. One of the individual’s who demonstrates this so clearly is Elijah. 

His story begins in 1 Kings 17 when he delivers the bad news to Ahab, King of Israel, that there was going to be a severe famine.  From that point forward, He basically becomes a hunted man.  If anyone experienced trying circumstances, it was this guy.  But time and time again, Elijah made it perfectly clear that he was going to follow the Lord whatever happened.  Whenever he spoke, he prefaced it with “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve. . .”  In this one pithy statement he says a lot. 

First, he is saying that God is Lord and remains in charge no matter what. It may seem like your life is spiraling out of control, but just because you don’t have control, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t.  He caused the famine and he would surely provide for his people during it. Psalm 40: 10 in the Message says:

 "Look! Your God!"
Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,
   ready to go into action.
He is going to pay back his enemies
   and reward those who have loved him.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
   gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
   leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

I love the idea of the Lord hugging me to himself.  He takes care of me in so many ways. I don’t know if I would see him loving care if it weren’t for my trying circumstances.  I love how this translation says “Look!”   Often times we take our eyes off of God and his provision and onto our circumstances when God just wants us to see him.  Sometimes (O.K most of the time) it takes trying circumstances to have us really see him working in our lives.

Next, Elijah calls him “living.”  God is not a distant and cold King who could care less about our lives.  He is a living and active God, “ready to go into action” as the Psalm above points out.  He lives in our hearts and moves in our lives. 2 Corinthians 3: 3 says “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (NIV).”  We are God’s love letter and God uses the Holy Spirit to write his love on our hearts. 

Finally, he makes it absolutely clear that, no matter what, he is going to serve God.  It didn’t matter if there was a famine or he was being hunted down, he was going to obey and serve God.  It is what he was created for; it is what we all were created for.  We find true happiness, independent of our circumstances, when we are living for Christ, serving and worshipping him alone.  It seemed crazy that God would expect me to serve him while I was undergoing chemotherapy.  Now, I am actually getting it ONCE A WEEK!   But do you know that I feel more blessed, strong, and energized than ever before?  Last year during my brief period of not going to the doctors constantly, I languished.  I decided that I could “take it easy” because after all, I had gotten through a tough year and I deserved a break right?  I got lazy and wasn’t in the Word daily and so became distant from God.  I decided (no, I believe God, in his mercy decided) that I wasn’t going to have that this time around.  I needed God in my life more than ever.  If God chooses to heal me again, then I will have the structure of serving to help me stay on track.  God saves us not to live our lives for ourselves, but to live for Him.

Later this week (Yes I will!! I say to myself;-), I will continue with the story of Elijah and God’s loving provision during his trials.  Until then I pray God’s peace over you and your circumstances, “as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve. . .”