1 King 19: 9-18, Psalm 85:8-13, Romans 10:5-15, Matthew 14:22-33
Elijah is a fiery and boisterous prophet who is referenced in the New Testament more times than any other Old Testament prophet. Prior to Elijah going back to Egypt, he wanted to die along with all of the other prophets being murdered at that time and he exclaimed “Enough of this, God! Take my life – I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” God answered to Elijah that he had 7,000 who didn’t quit and who are loyal to the finish. When Elijah comes to the mountain to wait for God as commanded; hurricane winds shattered rocks, earthquakes and fires erupted, but only after the chaos God showed himself with a tiny and gentle whisper. God had a different plan for Elijah and would not allow him to die and give up. Elijah’s job is to go back to Egypt and do God’s work where he is being persecuted. He did as he was instructed and changed the course of Egypt and history. I urge you to pray and listen to where and what God wants of you. You will figure it out. Perhaps God has intentions for you to impact the world!
It is important to listen to God because sometimes our plans and desires are not what he intends for us. I’ll tell you, as a red headed child in a family of brunettes, I felt very out of place and odd, in fact I was a pretty odd kid. I read a lot when I wasn’t training in dance, theater, music, or gymnastics. During the summer before 4th grade, I read a book that explained how the gene causing red hair is actually a mutation, similar to blue eyes. I thought this was the most life changing and incredible knowledge because this meant that I had the potential to be an incredible mutant with powers like the X- Men. I was convinced that all I had to do was focus and train and that my powers would show themselves. Seriously, this was my goal of the summer. I was hoping to be a combination of Gene Gray, Storm, and Wolverine. There I was, expecting God to give me the super powers of Jesus because I had red hair. This makes complete sense right? I guess that is what you can expect from a 9 year old trying to understand genetics. Everyday, I would spend my time meditating by chanting things like “powers and strength” and physical training of tumbling, marching, and isometrics. Needless to say, I am not able to read your mind, control weather, or have super human strength. It is unfortunate that I wasn’t confident enough to realize that my discipline, desire for good, intelligence, and talent for flipping made me an incredible little girl. It was much later that Jesus helped me understand and appreciate my worth. I like to think that perhaps I would have figured it out sooner if I had allowed the Holy trinity be allowed in the conversation rather than me relying on myself for strength and power.
As the Psalms state, “I can’t wait to hear what he’ll say. God’s about to pronounce his people well, the holy people he loves so much, so they’ll never again live like fools”. He loves us and wants the best for us. Yes, sometimes small waves are instigated by God to startle us and gain our attention, but the Holy Spirit is constantly whispering to us to provide guidance as we place our lives in their possession. Every Sunday, when I take communion I repeat a prayer of “God, I place my life in your hands. Please your will be done”. Depending on the events of that week, the prayer is the same but the emotions within the prayer vary. Some Sundays, I am desperate for peace and guidance because my heart is wrecked from life’s hurricanes. Some Sundays, I am joyfully praising for the countless blessings. Regardless of the circumstance, I’ve learned though, that life is much easier and peaceful when you place your life in Christ’s hands and allow him to use you as his hands and feet and shape your will. Paul states in Romans that our Messiah will put things right for those who trust him to do it and it is the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us.
I have to admit to that have been moments in my life where, like Elijah, I cried out to God and pleaded him to bring me home. I am so grateful for his mercy and generosity to allow me more time one earth and more opportunity to glorify him in this beautifully broken world. This world that may be broken but her grace, love, and devotion are not. I weep and I beg for forgiveness for the moments where I engaged in my own immediate self-interest rather than letting God pursue her interest in me. My debt was paid 2000 years ago and all I have to say is that Jesus is my savior and God has set everything right between him and me. The real battle is that I just have to forgive myself and focus all of my efforts towards stumbling along the path of righteousness. I find it to be a wonderful situation because my life is blessed beyond measure and doing his work has impacted my life in ways I could never anticipate.
In the Book of Romans, we are called to be among the minority who embrace Jesus with our entire body and soul. A life attempting a righteous path is a difficult but so worth it. I think the logic and science that doesn’t support faith and religion is our true obstacle. The same child who rejoiced in being a mutant also had issues with the lack of dinosaurs and conflicts of carbon dating in the bible. Now, we have to acknowledge mistranslations of vocabulary with what have fueled religious conflict over issues such as sexual orientations and gender power struggles. As Episcopalians, we are left fighting to defend ourselves against our fundamental brothers and sisters who say we are blasphemous for not regarding the Bible in its literal translation and the atheists who believe us to be insane for worshipping an invisible force in the sky. We are told we are delusional when we speak of the countless blessings bestowed upon us and the miracles witnessed. We are informed we are going straight to hell because we dare to love all of our neighbors as ourselves and that how dare the Word of God be challenged despite evidence the text has been altered throughout history. The only constant factor in the never ending debate is God’s love and salvation. Let us focus on the biblical texts that haven’t been altered or mistranslated and follow the commands of Jesus. In the new covenant, he is no longer a God of violence through destruction and is merely waiting with open arms and a gentle voice. Scripture reassures us that no one who trusts God with their heart and soul will ever regret it as we reap the bountiful blessings she bestows upon us. He sets life right for us through our faith as he recognizes how difficult it is to be believers in our corrupted world. Salvation is really about calling out to God and trusting him to work through us so that we may navigate the not so easy righteous life.
Time and energy spent loving all of his children, feeding his sheep, and spreading the good news pleases him and we are rewarded. A righteous life is a wonderful life and the only path to an eternal life in God’s kingdom. You don’t have to convey yourself to be a Jesus freak to spread the gospel, you merely have to live as he commands and bring the attention to your faith through your actions. I’d much rather be identified as a follower of Jesus for feeding the outcasts of society and helping prostitutes live the life they were created for through KCAHT than for shouting about Jesus through a megaphone on a street corner. You don’t have to hang out with the homeless or sex workers to show your faith either. Responding to violence and evil with love and peace, tolerating other views with respect, caring for orphans and widows, participating in groups and activities in church, spending time mentoring youth, and praising God’s glory even during life’s storms are all actions that please our savior and spread his Gospel. Allow yourself to be Christ’s hands and feet so that you may be a blessing to your fellow brothers and sisters. Acknowledge God’s sovereignty, place your life in his hands, and enjoy the wild ride to living the life you were created for. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Amen.