Gave this great sermon yesterday–complete with teary-eyed women (and men) all across the congregation, which in turn made it very difficult to keep my own composure–but I made it through and there were congratulations all around. Rah, Rah.
I meant every word I said.
Which makes it even more disconcerting this morning–in between ring-around-the-rosies, "Good Girl!" and "oh-my-goodness-you're-so-smart!"–to find myself almost bowled over by grief; to find myself, in between brilliant smiles and story books, still eyeing the shade.
There is this story in Kings about Elijah calling down fire from heaven, putting the prophets of Baal to shame and unsealing the heavens after three and a half years of drought.
The people are astounded and praise the Lord for, I don't know, all of about twelve hours and then Elijah's getting death threats again. You know the story. Fickle Israel.
Before this week I had never seen the verse in the next chapter where Elijah has fled Jezebel's assassins and gone a day's journey into the wilderness and thrown himself under a juniper–alone, exhausted; done teaching and talking and trying. Done with ravens bringing him breakfast and dinner; with barrels of meal and oil that miraculously refill themselves; done with fire from heaven; done living. He pleads with God, "It is enough; now, oh Lord, take away my life."
I have been under that tree; not because I doubt God's power or compassion but because I doubt my own capacity to endure. And I know the rest of the story–how God sends an angel with one more meal and how on the power of that one meal Elijah makes it even deeper into the wilderness–forty days and nights, up into the mountain for further instructions.
I know this.
I have wept and prayed and had the promise given me–that though the answers be a ways off–that He would at least give me the strength to get out from under the juniper. But maybe I stand on the edge of the wilderness and find myself dismayed that I have strength for such a journey–alone, or in the company of angels.
Thank goodness for these little people that get me out of bed each morning and put a smile on my face, or I might just crawl back under the juniper and stay there.