My 6 year old son likes to play the game, Hide-and-Seek. For him, it is a one sided game. He hides and we search. He crawls under a chair. We call his name. He covers himself under a blanket. We look for his little toes to peak out. What he likes most in his little game is not the hiding–although he seems to do it quite well. Instead, what thrills him the most is being found. Loud squeals and energizing cheers will exude him. Joy will envelope him. His dimpled smile will overtake him. He will be pleased to all end.
The prophet Elijah did not want to be found. With the news of Jezebel’s threats of revenge (1 Kings 19:1), Elijah fled. Burned out and depressed, Elijah thought of himself as no better than his ancestors, pleading for the Lord to end his life. Yet, after a visit from an angel (1 Kings 19:5), he is given enough strength for his journey and enough hope to move on.
For forty days and night, the prophet travels to the mountain of Horeb (which means mountain of God). With his depression and despair only growing deeper, Elijah hides himself away in a cave, sure his ministry had failed and his call as a servant of God was over.
And, the Lord calls upon Elijah.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”
The Lord calls Elijah out of the cave. But not even three manifestations of God’s power pull Elijah out of his hiding. The wind–strong enough to split mountains–doesn’t call Elijah out. The earthquake doesn’t make Elijah reveal his face. And, the fire keeps him hidden. But upon hearing the sheer silence, Elijah is drawn out. Wrapped in his mantle, Elijah stands at the entrance of the cave.
The Lord calls upon Elijah again. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And, again, Elijah answers.
“I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”
This is not a fun little game of hide-and-seek where Elijah hopes to be found with joy. Instead he assumes only those who seek him want him dead. His joy is gone. Elijah is finished.
Yet, the Lord’s plan for Elijah was not to keep him hidden. Elijah, who’s name means “my God is Lord,” is once again reminded of who his God is and whom he is called to serve. As Elijah is found in this cave on God’s mountain, the Lord reveals a new mission. Elijah is recommissioned to a life of anointing the anointed. As much as Elijah didn’t want to be found, in this one sided “game”, the Lord finds Elijah, the Lord reveals himself to Elijah, and the Lord calls Elijah to further service. Elijah is pushed out of hiding and sent out once again. And, as he goes, he will not be alone–not in his journey back to the people and not in his future with Elisha.
I wonder how it feels to hide and not want to be found…
I wonder how it feels to be found when you least expect it…
I wonder how Elijah felt as made his way out of the cave and back out into the wilderness…
I wonder how God will be revealed to you today…