Strength for the Journey


I don’t like it when things are unresolved. But when I was growing up, I used it to my advantage. 

As the youngest child in my family, I had to work hard for attention. I didn’t earn my family’s attention, however. I stole it. One of my more effective efforts at getting attention came at the expense of my musically gifted sister. To elicit a response from her, I simply had to create unresolved suspense by not playing the last measure of a song that I was practicing on the piano in the living room. She liked this not one bit. I found it delicious.  

On Sunday, my sermon did not address the last ‘measure’ of our scripture passage.  

We were looking at the story of Elijah’s response to Queen Jezebel’s threats in 1 Kings 19. Although Elijah had just triumphed over the prophets of Baal in dramatic fashion, the reader finds God’s premier messenger trembling beneath a solitary broom tree in the middle of nowhere. We learned that Elijah wanted to end it all right there. But God was not interested in removing Elijah from his unsettling circumstances, even though that would have represented an answer to Elijah’s prayer. Instead, God sent his angels to attend to Elijah’s needs. Because of God’s intervention, Elijah rested. He was fed and nourished by God’s ambassadors. God provided his servant sanctuary so that his strength could be restored.  

But for what reason? 

Yes, just when your curiosity had been piqued, your preacher omitted the final measure. The story was left unresolved. The question was not answered. Why, indeed, did God provide sanctuary for his prophet?  

Our clue comes from the mouth of one of God’s angels who told Elijah to, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 

God provided sanctuary to his servant so that he would have strength for the journey. Although Elijah was ready for his journey to be over, God was not done with him. God gives him room to despair, yes. God gives Elijah a place to rest, true. And nourishment for healing is provided so that Elijah can continue on his way. This all happened for a reason. The road that Elijah would continue down would lead to a breathtaking encounter with the Living God. This was why God provided Him sanctuary in the first place.  

Although I left this point on the table, so to speak, the point will preach: God provides His people sanctuary because He’s not done with us yet. He knows we need strength for the journey ahead. And God, at least, won’t leave us hanging.  

Jeffrey, the obnoxious 7-year-old in the Mathis household, however, just might.