Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bread and Whispers


At mid-life many of us find ourselves tempted to despair. Half our lives gone, more than half our strength spent. The work in which we have invested still bears but little fruit. The bright goals to which we press look farther away than ever. People disappoint. The young pastors who lead our churches have milk for the babes, but nothing for the mature except work. Both the generations before and after us need more and more from us. We are disappointed in ourselves.

Forget "mounting up like eagles". Forget "running and not being weary". We can barely "walk and not faint". Our refrain becomes, "vanity, vanity! All is vanity!" But though the saints grow weary and experience spiritual depressions, it is not to characterize us, nor to be a permanent condition.

Elijah at mid-life utterly defeated 850 prophets of Baal (I Kings 18), discredited their power before assembled Israel and encouraged Israel to execute God's judgement on them so that none escaped alive. Queen Jezebel issued a death warrant against Elijah in retaliation. And Elijah, that mighty one, slunk off to the wilderness, asking to die (I Kings 19:4).

But God revived him. With bread from heaven. And a "still, small voice" in the midst of a raging storm, an earthquake and a fire.

All of these are figures of God's Word.
Bread
Several of the prophets eat the scroll containing God's Word in their visions.
"I AM the bread of Life." (Jn 6:35)

Storm and earthquake
"The voice of the Lord is powerful...The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars....The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness...." (Ps 29)

Fire
"I will make my words in thy mouth a fire..." (Jer. 5:14)

But if you read the account in I Kings, you'll notice that for exhausted, depressed Elijah, God was not in the storm or the earthquake or the fire. The Word of God was to him nourishment and gentleness.

Are you exhausted? Depressed? Despairing even? Open your Bible.

10 comments:

eph2810 said...

Thank you Kim for pointing me to Elijah :). Sometimes I seem to forget that God's mighty people struggled as well in their life on earth.

Dave said...

Very timely, and much appreciated. Thanks.

Carol said...

"The young pastors who lead our churches have milk for the babes, but nothing for the mature except work."

How about a series on how we can cope with this reality? Or how we can alter it?

Kim Anderson said...

I don't know that I have very much wisdom about that, Carol.

The best I have been able to do is pray for those pastors, lob some steak in their direction, and figure God wants me to fix my own dinner. ;^)

Seriously, most pastors DO read some Scripture during a worship service. I ask God to feed me from there when I know I'm not likely to get anything else.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

As someone in mid-life, this whispered to me this morning. Tired and disappointed is one thing but we need not be dull of heart when we can open up His Word and be refreshed and encouraged. Good stuff!

prairie girl said...

Kim,

Thanks for this message this morning. I often feel like Gumby, being pulled in two generational directions with an elderly mom who lives with me, children on both coasts, grandbabies who need grandmama, a husband in the busiest season of his career.

But the advantage is that I have already lived through God's faithfulness for so many, many years and have tasted of His goodness, which is the promise of tomorrow.

As for the young pastors,I don't chalk their baby food up to their age, but rather to the amount of study they do or don't do. My pastor is in his early 40's and we leave every Sunday so full we can barely digest it all before the next week's meal. I have taken that for granted and will thank God doubly for him today!

Heather Ivester said...

Thanks for pointing me back toward one of my favorite scenes in scripture -- where Elijah heard God speak in a whisper. That still, small Voice is what inspires me to seek beyond this world. Although personally, I can't stand to be fed milk for months on end -- thank goodness for rich nourishment from books.

Carol said...

You know, I have to agree with Prairie Girl - it's not necessarily about chronological age. Perhaps it's more about spiritual age? Either the pastor's or else his perception of his congregations?

You're right, Kim. I do need to pray about this - pray for my pastor and for my own ability to receive what God wants me to receive from Him on Sunday mornings. He clearly wants me at this church right now and He's in control.

Loved the whole post, BTW.

Kim Anderson said...

You are right, it often has less to do with chronological age. I do think Prarie Girl has the right of it - willingness to study has a lot to do with it.

And I do know pastors who intentionally aim low because they think no one will be able to grasp anything more. While I applaud the notion that you should appeal to your audience, I think you should also respect that audience.

But I digress. This aspect of it doesn't bear thinking long. Ultimately, I have to stop expecting help from any quarter but from God only.

Blair said...

Ah yes Elijah! I haven't thought of him in a while.

Our pastor did a series called "The Table" talking about the different people who come to "the table" each week to be "fed". It was very interesting indeed and helped change my outlook quite a bit.

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