And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here (lost purpose), Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9, parenthesis added)
In addition to asking about our past, God often questions the present. It is one thing to agree with God about past failures. However, it is quite another to discuss a present course of action. Confessing to a mistake is admission of something I know was wrong. However, changing my mind in the present takes more courage. That is where God confronts me to motivate my course correction.
Question #4 – What Are You Doing Here?
In 1 Kings 18, Elijah enjoyed a supernatural mountaintop experience. He stood strong for God and called down fire from heaven. However, the very next chapter reveals him running for his life from an evil, vengeful queen. After killing her false prophets, Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah. So, off he ran. And he didn’t stop until he found a remote cave on the backside of nowhere.
We can be spiritually strong, yet still get scared. When life unexpectedly turns against us, we sometime become fearful in an instant. Adam and Eve hid in disobedience. Jonah ran in defiance. But Elijah ran in fear. Only a few hours separated God’s supernatural firestorm and Elijah’s scaredy-cat scat. Life can change that quickly.
Yet, even in that fearful state, God was with him while he hid in the cave. When he doubted God’s protection, God still went along and sat beside him in the damp seclusion. See, God can handle our weak moments. And they do not have to be weak moments of great sin – they can be fearful moments of weak faith. Yet God tells us, Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). When we doubt God, we separate ourselves from Him. We run to the caves of seclusion and self-sufficiency.
There in the twilight of the cave’s recesses, Elijah resigned from his divinely-appointed ministry. He said, It is enough! Now Lord, take my life. Not only did he run from his God-ordained purpose, he wished to die. His skewed outlook enabled his fear, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
God’s Discomforting Challenge
When we run from God, whether in sinful passions or fearful doubt, we no longer occupy the place where God wants us. In that cave, Elijah was no longer where he should have been and it negatively affected all aspects of his life. Spiritually, he forgot God’s call and miraculous answer to his prayer. Mentally, his self-centered, narrow-minded thoughts fueled his fear. Emotionally, he allowed his carnal feelings to override God’s truth. Physically, he travelled ninety miles to Beersheba, then another two hundred miles to his cave on Mt Sinai. He was far from the place where God called him to serve. As such, he was far from being the person God commissioned him to be. He was far from the purpose God set before Him.
Yet, God still met him in his cave of disillusionment and defeat. He called his servant out of the cave to stand before Him. But God did not berate him for his fear nor did He punish him for running. He strengthened him for the journey ahead and refocused his attention on the job at hand. He challenged his heart with, What are you doing here?
That is our challenge today. God asks, In what cave are you hiding? What disappointment makes you doubt Me or My sovereign control? Which attack is making you question My call on your life? He lovingly calls us into His presence and re-energizes our purpose with, My child – I didn’t place you here! Why did you run? I have work for you to do. What are you doing here?
How Will You Answer?
How do you answer that question? What was it that made you doubt? God’s purpose and calling on your life remain. He already saw whatever made you fearful or disappointed and allowed it as a test of your faith. Now He stands at the mouth of your self-made prison and calls you to stand free before Him. He awaits your full attention to renew your mind, revive your soul, reengage your heart, and refresh your strength. No matter the distance, no matter the doubt, you cannot outrun God. He tenderly meets you in your despair and charts the course for new beginnings.
It is my hope and prayer that you will stand in God’s presence, confess your doubt, and listen for His encouraging whisper. Besides, you don’t really like the dark, clammy cave anyway!