“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; [but] the LORD [was] not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; [but] the LORD [was] not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; [but] the LORD [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” – 1 Kings 19:11-12
We All Get Lost From Time to Time
I think when it comes right down to it, the vast majority of us can say at some particular point in our lives that we have lost direction. When we go into a new city that we’re not familiar with, and we try and journey from point A to point B in that city, it becomes very easy to get lost.
A few years ago on the book trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, we had all purchased our books, and we were all sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee and a wonderful bunch of books to take a look through. But although many of us should have realized what was happening on the drive back, none of us caught the issue until it was too late. We missed the point that the bus driver had missed the exit to turn onto the correct interstate and come back to Indianapolis. And none of us recognized this until he had driven about an hour and a half out of his way. When he finally got the bus turned around, we saw a sign that said, “Next Exit: Welcome to Canada!”
The Necessity of a Compass
Anyone who’s ever gone hiking before, say, into the mountains or the woods, one of the pieces of equipment you’re supposed to carry with you is a compass. It’s an extremely necessary piece of equipment.
The idea behind a compass is that, before you begin your hike, you take a reading, finding firstly where “north” is located. This gives you a sense of your surroundings so that, if you get lost on the journey, you can regain your bearings.
In the opening passage, we find an individual in the Old Testament who it seems has lost some direction; who has last his way. The story is told here of Elijah, and how he had done wonderful exploits while standing for the one true God. He called fire down from heaven in defiance of the prophets of Baal, all in the face of a corrupt government and a queen who wanted all the true prophets of God dead.
And yet, despite these great things that were accomplished, Elijah starts to lose his direction in this passage. We can see in the first few verses of chapter 19 that Elijah seems to think his life is no longer meaningful. Although the story started positively, there’s a definite change here from the first part of the book.
The Prophet Was Still Human
With Elijah, we’re looking at one of the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Elijah’s ministry was full of miracles. It would have been nice to be a proverbial fly on the wall or an observer somewhere, looking at the things that Elijah had actually accomplished. But it isn’t surprising that the prophet would respond in fear and run when Jezebel puts an order on his head.
The truth is that we cannot fault Elijah because many of us would have done the exact same thing. Faced with the threat of death, especially after living right and standing for God, we would more than likely question the validity of the wonders that God had done in our lives beforehand.
Oftentimes, I think we are guilty of faulting Elijah here, assuming that he made some great failure or some great error in judgment. I believe that we miss the point if we choose to see Elijah in that light. Rather than seeing him in a negative light, I see him as an example of humanity. I see him as an example of what every last one of us has gone through at some point in our lives.
If you are the rare individual that can say, “I’ve never had any questions for God, and God has always directed me,” let me tell you, there will come a time in your life where you will have a sense of loss in direction. You will have a sense that you need to get your bearings and try and get your “best self” back, doing what you know you should be doing. This makes you at even with one of the greatest prophets of all time.
Going Back to Where You Met God Last
The Scripture tells us that the nation of Israel had a long history of killing the prophets that they didn’t like. Taking that history into account, Elijah just says, “Well, God, I’m willing to give you my life.” This was not just some throwaway statement. He truly meant this. But there was more that God had called him to do.
And so, the angel awakens him the second time and instructs Elijah to eat something and take some food, because he is about to embark on a long journey. And indeed it was, he goes forty days into the Sinai desert. And he goes to a place called Mount Horeb.
Although we don’t know where Horeb was, we do know that it’s in the vicinity of Sinai. You see, Elijah had come back to where God had first met with His people in the first place. In Deuteronomy, chapter five, we’re reminded that God made a covenant with His people at Horeb. In verse eight of our opening passage, Horeb is called “the mount of God.”
I see something powerful in this. When you lose your direction, when you lose your way, go back to where you know God is at. Go back to where God has spoken to you before. Don’t just head off in some new direction. Go back to where God has ministered to you in the first place. And if you’re a little bit discouraged or discombobulated in your spiritual walk with God, let me tell you to go back to the place that God called you from, and have a new conversation with God, just like Elijah did. What better place to go back to? Let’s go back to where God met with the nation in the first place. Let’s hear from God again!
The Silence of God
Scripture tells us that Elijah has a conversation with God at this mountain. In verse nine, He asks the prophet, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” And Elijah begins to open up. He begins to tell God what he has been doing here. He essentially says, “God, I have been very zealous for You and for the children of Israel, but the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant. They’ve thrown down Your altars, they’ve slain the prophets with the sword, and I, even I only am left, and they want to seek my life, too.”
Notice the Scripture says that after Elijah poured out his heart, God passed by. In the middle of your lack of direction, in the middle of your lack of focus, in the middle of you trying to figure some things out and get answers from God – isn’t it nice when God passes by?
And then, after God comes by, here comes a wind. And the wind is so strong, the wind is so powerful, that it breaks some of the rocks apart. But what does the Scripture say? God’s not in the wind. And then, along comes an earthquake. For some of us who have been in an earthquake, it certainly is something that gets your attention. But God wasn’t in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire.
Isn’t it interesting that these are the same things that took place on Sinai when Moses was there receiving the Law? Elijah seems to be reliving some of the same things that Moses had actually lived through. And then after the fire, there’s a still small voice. He had passed by, but this wasn’t the time that God was going to reveal Himself in the same manner as he had to Moses.
Sometimes, we get confused at the things that we “think” God is in. In this circumstance, God wasn’t in the demonstrative moments like He was with Moses. But God was communicating to the prophet that He had been there all along.
We must become comfortable with the silence of God. Sometimes, God doesn’t speak to us. Sometimes He has spoken to us before and told us a certain direction to go. We must learn how to stay in that direction until He tells us something different.
There are Thousands More
It seems that Elijah misses the point. In verse fourteen, he repeats his exact woes from verse ten. But this chapter is full of God speaking and manifesting Himself in the life of Elijah. In verse five, the angel of the Lord appears to Elijah, and again in verse seven. In verse nine, the word of the Lord comes to him, and in verse eleven, he must go and stand in the mouth of the cave and see what God will do. God passes by in verse thirteen, and in verse fifteen the voice of the Lord comes to him again.
Elijah is not getting the message, and so God has to go in a different direction. Again, we must cut Elijah some slack. How many times have you and I been in a powerful apostolic service, where the Spirit of God was moving powerfully and wonderfully, but we missed the significance of it? Every last one of us has been in that situation before, where we’ve missed what God was trying to do in our lives.
So God comes to Elijah the second time and gives him more instruction. He tells him to go and anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. While he is doing that, he is also to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel. Afterward, he must then anoint Elisha to be a prophet. And then, He says something that we should all grasp and remember.
God essentially says, “Oh, by the way, Elijah, I have seven thousand prophets that haven’t bowed the knee or kissed that evil idol. Elijah, you think that you’re the only one. But I have thousands just like you.
Don’t ever think that it’s just you against the world. God has more people who are part of this Apostolic movement and doctrine. He has millions of people in China. Oneness Pentecostalism is growing massively around the world. Don’t ever let the devil get into your head and your mind that it’s just you and you alone. God has a church!
Two Steps When You are Lost
God has a purpose for your life and ministry, no matter if you happen to have lost your sense of direction. It’s okay to feel discombobulated. It’s okay to feel disoriented. When God asks you a question, such as “What are you doing here?” He wants an answer. So have a conversation with God just like Elijah did. Be honest and tell Him, “God, I don’t understand some things.” It’s okay to come to God and say, “God, I’m feeling lost here. I feel that You told me to go in this direction. But many things are against me.”
The question is not, “Will you get lost?” Rather, the question is “What will you do when you get lost?” The first thing you must do when you find yourself lost is to stop. Don’t make any crazy decisions. Don’t make decisions that are going to impact you for the rest of your life.
The second thing is when you can’t find North – that is, when you can’t find God – go back to the last place you knew God was at. Whether it was at an altar, at church, or a conference, go back to where He last spoke to you. You might not be able to do it physically, but at least go back in your mind and go back in your prayer time with God.
My challenge to you today is to go back to the Mount of God. Figure out where north is at, and then get readjusted and go on and live your life. God wasn’t finished with Elijah at his point of no direction, and God is not finished with you.