–This is part of a sermon I preached on 1 Kings 17:1-16. The full text is available here.
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I try to be a person of faith. As a pastor, having faith is part of my job description, I suppose. But I tell you what, Elijah has me beat. There is an impending drought, and God tells him to go hide in the wilderness, by the wadi—which is a riverbed that is sometimes dry, sometimes not. So, go hide out, says God. And not only that, but “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
What? That is crazy. Straight up crazy. But Elijah didn’t say a word about how ridiculous this plan was. He just “went and did according to the word of the Lord.” And sure enough, in swoop the ravens with bread and meat.
Now, you won’t be surprised to know that I’ve been thinking about this story in terms of what it might mean for us as a congregation as we discern together next steps in addressing concerns about our building size.
I imagine Elijah knew that food would be scarce as the drought set in. This was a problem that I imagine he tried to solve. Perhaps he even made a process agreement:
–Issue: I am going to starve to death because of the drought.
–Process Goals: Collect food that can be stored; plant crops that do not need much water; beg on the street . . .
I don’t know what possible solutions Elijah might have developed for his particular problem. But I’m willing to bet “hide out by the wadi and let the ravens bring me bread and meat” was not one of them.
I don’t say this to in any way disparage our careful congregational processing. Still, there are many options within the options we we have thought of; and I’m sure some options that fall outside the realm of anything we can plan for or imagine. Maybe there is a wadi somewhere nearby where, as we speak, ravens are weaving a beautiful sanctuary for us.
I don’t think Elijah’s story says that it is bad to think through things and make wise and reasonable plans; but within our planning we should always be listening for the voice that is beyond what we can control and conceive. We should remain open always to the surprising blessings that God has in store.