What an excellent Sunday School lesson, all centered on Elijah. There is so much to benefit us that less than an hour hardly seems enough to do more than touch on it.
We are all familiar with the widow and her son who were both dying of hunger from the years of drought. Elijah asked her to bake the last of her flour and oil in a cake for him. Instead of keeping any for herself and her son, she baked it and gave it to Elijah. In return he promised her the barrel of flour would never be empty nor the cruise of oil run dry until the rains came again. And of course that was so.
What superb faith, and what a beautiful reward.
Then later her son was dying.
She went to Elijah and asked him to heal the boy. At first Elijah was puzzled and unwilling, then when she insisted, he prayed profoundly, pleading with God, doubting his own ability, and was able to raise the boy to life and health again.
Many thoughts come from that. How did she have such faith, first to give Elijah the last of her food, then later to know that he could heal her son, even when apparently he did not know this himself?
Was that great blessing primarily for the widow, for her son, or for Elijah himself? Surely all three – but perhaps mostly for Elijah? What sudden blossoming of confidence might that have been for him? What happiness?
And yet later, after the demonstration before the priests of Baal, and their lack of real perception of the love of God, their unwillingness to change their behaviour, Elijah felt total despair. He begged God to allow him to die. How very human! I love Elijah for his weaknesses, for his vulnerability to such profound loneliness and discouragement, because I can identify with it. Can't we all, at some time or another? He was great not because he was without weakness, but precisely because he had failures, moments of doubt and despair, and he overcame them. He was not different from us, he was the same – but sublimely better, because he fought off the darkness and battled his way back to the light. He struggled with the same demons we do – and HE WON!
He heard the great wind, which was not the voice of God – and the earthquake which was not the voice of God, and the fire which was not the voice of God – and then the still, small whisper which was. He heard it, he knew it, he followed all that it said to him.
How often do the loud voices and spectacular effects stop us from hearing the small voice which should NEVER be forgotten?
Does it say something like 'Be still, and know that I am God?' Does there need to be anything more?
I have promised myself this month – and maybe next as well – that I shall deliberately try harder to seek the light. By that I mean look for and concentrate on all that is good, brave, honest and beautiful.
There is so much ugliness in the words in many people's conversation. There is much unkindness, criticism, the need to pull others to pieces and find fault. There are failures, things to be afraid of in human behavior, and in the world of nature. There seem to be so many floods, earthquakes, droughts, sudden freezing and elsewhere suffocating heat. No doubt in some places there will be the usual summer wildfires.
It is hard at times not to be afraid. It takes courage just to be alive.
I have promised myself I will read the poetry I love more often. I will listen to great classical music more often. The trouble is that when I put it on during the day when I am working, I find I love it so dearly I stop working and listen to it, my pen in the air and the rest of the world on 'hold'.
I will try to read a bit more Shakespeare, so that the richness of both the language and the thought will become a more accessible part of the furniture in my mind. I must get a decent performance on disc of Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello, Macbeth. Perhaps I will get King Lear also. I have never seen it. That would be a good start.
I should read Wilde and Shaw again also, and loads of other things.