1 Kings 19:1-15a
Ahab ratted Elijah out. He told his wife Jezebel everything Elijah had done to her precious prophets of Baal. He spared no detail, the killing with the swords and the fireball from the sky. This made Jezebel right angry. I mean she was fighting mad. She told one of her errand boys to take a message to Elijah. Here’s what she said, “I don’t care what happens to me, I don’t care if it kills me to do this but by this time tomorrow you’re going to be as dead as my prophets you just killed. Love, Jezbel.”
This scared the crap out of Elijah. He ran for all he was worth. He knew this woman was going to kill him. He left town right away, boarding the next ferry, going to Swan Quarter in Hyde County. It was more than his Duke intern could take. The intern stayed behind in Ponzer while Elijah made the lonely day’s journey across Lake Mattamuskeet. Elijah was sick and tired. After a day, he sat down under a solitary cedar tree and said, “I give up Lord, just take me now. I am no better than all those preachers who went before me and failed.” Echoing Fred Sanford’s desire to have the big one and join Elizabeth, Elijah muttered himself to sleep under the solitary cedar tree.
One the morning of the second day, a messenger from God showed up to cook him breakfast. “Get up, Eat something!” the messenger said. Elijah opened his eyes to see pancakes and orange juice prepared right by his cedar tree pillow. This wasn’t what he expected. As he was hungry and like pancakes, he ate heartily and went back to bed.
The Lord’s messenger and short order cook showed up again. This time he had additional food and more instructions to eat. “The further you go out the harder it’s going to get. You’re going to need your strength for the journey.” Elijah needed to eat enough to keep him going for 40 days and 40 nights. He had a long way to walk until he got to a mountain on the other end of the state. On his path there were no rest stops or drink machines. In this time you walked straight through until you got to where God told you to go.
The holy mountain, somewhere north of Asheville had a cave. Elijah thought he’d be safe there. Once he got inside, he heard the voice of the Lord ask him, “Elijah, why are you here, why have you come all this way?”
Elijah replied, “Things aren’t going too well for me right now. I really do love the Lord but I can’t keep the God thing going all by myself in Israel. All of my colleagues have been killed and I’m the only preacher left to do the work. Now they want to kill me too!”
The Lord told him to go out and stand by the edge of the cave; he was thinking about making a personal appearance. The first thing that happened was a strong wind blew through the mountains, like a hurricane, and tore up trees and rocks. But the Lord had nothing to do with the wind. After the wind, an earthquake hit. It was rough and tumble with rocks falling too. The Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. When the earthquake was done, a forest fire blazed through burning everything in sight. God wasn’t in that either.
After the fire, however, there was a tiny thin sound. The Lord was in that sound. The Lord asked his first question to Elijah. “Why are you here?”
I love the Lord, but I can’t keep this God thing going all on my own. My friends are dead and now they want to kill me.
The Lord said, “Get up, go back through Mattamuskeet to the Outer Banks.”
Excerpted from the Howard Street Version, a modern translation with a down east brogue, by Richard Bryant