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. (I Kings 19:8)
I can hardly wait. In just a little over a week, Lent will be here, the Christian penitential preparation for Easter, the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. And why am I looking forward to Lent? It’s that season when we can choose to devote ourselves to intense focus on Jesus’ sacrifice for us and how we can respond.
During the forty days of Lent, some people will give up certain foods or will spend more time in prayer. Some will fast of all or some meals daily, and some will eliminate entertainments. In these forty days as we intentionally wait on God, we seek to know him better, and we wait until we sense our spirit has connected with our heavenly Father.
And that’s the point of listening. What will God say to us? What new direction will he send us? How will he shift our priorities? We sit in quietness, being still and knowing he is God. When he speaks, there is no question in our minds as to what we should do. The question is Will we obey the still small voice?
Elijah had defied wicked Queen Jezebel and her pagan prophets. He had stood alone on Mt. Carmel proclaiming the reign of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and defeated all the prophets of Baal. And yet, when Jezebel sought to kill him, he ran and hid himself beside a little bush, ready to die.
God sent an angel who gave him food and water and told him to rest. And then a second time, Elijah was encouraged to eat and rest. The refreshing that came from above was sufficient to carry Elijah, depleted as he was, for forty days and forty nights.
Lent for us becomes that time of waiting quietly before God and allowing him to nourish us, to give us rest, to refresh and bless us. Waiting, resting, refreshing. Followed by strength.
Father, cause us to return to the quietness and renewal that we find in your presence. Feed us so that we know our empowerment is from you alone. Rest and refresh us. In Jesus’ holy name. AMEN.