Weekly Devotional – Week of Monday, October 5, 2020
Opening Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Collects)
Heavenly Father, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you: Look upon the heartfelt desires of your humble servants, and stretch forth the strong hand of your Majesty to be our defense against our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
Bible Reading – 1 Kings 19:1-8 (taken from the Daily Lectionary for October 5th)
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (English Standard Version)
Devotional – Life in the End
We all inevitably come to a time in our lives when enough is enough. We have done all that we can do and we just cannot do anymore. Life is an exhausting endeavor there are so many trials to endure, hills to overcome, and situations to conquer. At some point we all come to the end of ourselves and we just don’t have the energy or fight left in us to keep going. I know I feel that way at times and I am sure you have been there yourself. In our reading today from 1 Kings 19 the prophet Elijah found himself at one of those moments. He was at the end of himself, but instead of death, what Elijah found in the Lord was the renewal of life.
Elijah had been fighting the good fight as a Prophet of God. He had boldly proclaimed the word of God to His people and had stood and fought for His righteousness. The reward for all his hard work was the vitriol of Queen Jezebel who sought his suffering and demise. The threat on his life was more than he could take and so he ran for his life. His running led him into the wilderness all by himself where he laid down under a broom tree. Elijah didn’t just lay down to rest a bit, he laid down to die. In fact, that is exactly what he asked God to give him, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” Elijah was exhausted and he had had enough of life.
You might think that the Lord would have offered Elijah a sharp rebuke for his weakness and doubt, but something quite different comes from the Lord at this time in which Elijah had come to the end of himself. As Elijah fell asleep, he was awakened by one of God’s messengers, who simply said, “Arise and eat.” When Elijah looked there was a cake and water for him to eat and drink. After eating Elijah fell back asleep and again a messenger from the Lord awoke him saying, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” Elijah did what the messenger of the Lord instructed him and we are told that he, “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.”
What a beautiful example of the nurturing compassion of God at work in Elijah’s life. Elijah had come to the end of himself and wanted nothing but death, but the Lord instead gave Him life and strength to continue his journey.
This passage from the Old Testament is a powerful foreshadowing of God’s nurturing compassion on all humanity. For those who are tired and weary of life and have come to the end of themselves, God graciously gives strength and life to continue the journey. Only the food and drink that we have been given is more powerful than the food and drink that Elijah received. The food and drink that Elijah received was just enough to get him through for forty days and forty nights. That is some pretty powerful food, but the food and drink that God offers to us when we come to the end of ourselves is enough to sustain us for life and all of eternity. In John 14 Jesus said this to the Samaritan woman, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” In John 6 Jesus said the following,
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Friends, when we come to the end of ourselves and are finally ready to give up the exhausting quest to earn God’s favor in our lives, then the Bread of Life and Spring that wells up to eternal life if ours in Jesus. He gave himself up willingly on the cross for our salvation. He has won the victory of sin and death in our lives. If you are finally at the end of yourself then come to Jesus and find rest for your weary soul.
Closing Prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer, Collects)
Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you for all your gifts so freely bestowed upon us; for life and health and safety; for strength to work and leisure to rest; for all that is beautiful in creation and in human life; but above all we thank you for our spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.