Sunday, February 3, 2008

Follow the Tracks -- Hope Chronicles 14

It snowed Thursday night and into Friday morning. And it snowed and snowed and snowed. (I probably shouldn't be surprised given that I live in Central Illinois, but I always hate it anyway!) I knew the forecast before I went to bed. It called for 6-10 inches, so I allotted time in the morning for shoveling and was digging my way out in the 5am darkness. Because of the dirfts it came 3/4 of the way up my calves.

I backed out of the driveway and into the alley. Since it is an alley, it is typically one of the last things on the list for the road department to plow. My wheels spun in the snow. I rocked the car backwards and forwards. At that point, there was only one set of tracks in the snow. I instinctively knew that if I wanted to get out of the alley, I needed to follow those tracks.

So, that's what I did. Even when the tracks ventured right when I would normally go left, I followed them to the right. Together we looped around the subdivision and finally spilled out onto a main street. It wasn't the way I would normally go, but I'm convinced that if I hadn't ventured out of them, I would have been completely stuck.

It seems like everything in life right now is pointing me towards hope. The tracks in the snow are no different.

Just like I needed to follow those tracks to get out of that alley, to follow them right when I would have gone left, sometimes I also need to follow the tracks of those who have gone before me.

One of my favorite Bible characters is the prophet Elijah. The story of Elijah can be found in 1Kings 17 and following. In chapter 18, God calls Elijah to a confrontation with Ahab and the prophets of Baal. It's a wonderful story. I would encourage you to read it! Here it is in brief: Elijah challenges the propehts of Baal to a contest. Whose ever god answers with fire on the altars they built, he would be god. Elijah lets Baal's prophets go first. They dance and scream and entreat Baal to answer them. As time drags on, Elijah taunts them. In verse 27-28 (NIV) it says, "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention."

Then Elijah has his turn. He digs a trench around the altar and pours water on it so it runs off the altar and into the trench. God answers in a mighty way with fire from heavent that burns up the sacrafice and even laps up all the water in the ditch! Elijah and the Israelites slay the prophets of Baal.

As is so often the case, after an emotional high, Elijah plummets emotionally. He hears that Jezebel is furious and wants to kill him. He flees. Emotionally exhausted, he sits in front of a broom tree and prays to die. God sends an angel with sustenance. Then he travels to Horeb for 40 days and comes to a cave. God calls Elijah into his presence in chapter 19. It says, "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. "

God was not in the rock shattering wind. He was not in the eartquake. He was not in the fire. When God came, He was in the whisper! How often do I miss God because I am too busy or loud or . . . ? God is often in the whisper.

Elijah (as I probably would) immediately whines to God that he is the only one left and people are after him. Yes, the great prophet whines even after the miracles he has seen. God puts it all in perspective, He gives him a mission (go back) and lets him no that Elijah is not alone -- there are 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed to Baal. And God is sending Elijah a partner.

What tracks can we follow that God and Elijah lay down for us here?

  • Rest when you need to. God provided a rest and sustenance for Elijah in the desert.

  • Look for God in the whisper as well as the big things of life. Maybe find a quiet spot or quiet time when you can hear Him more clearly.

  • Whining doesn't work! Keep things in perspective. How could Elijah think he was the only one when there were 7,000 of God's faithful still in Israel. He did what I often do, he looked at the surface of things rather than reality. He took his eyes off the God who had so miraculously came through and let fear get the best of him.

  • Get moving. Energy breeds energy. Get back on task.
Where is the hope? God always leaves us tracks to follow. It's up to us if we will follow those who came before or get stuck in the snow.


I did make it into work and worked for about and hour and a half before my boss called me at the office and let me know we would be closed due to the weather! So, I got to come home and do things around the house. While I was trying to take a nap, I realized that Katy had a lot of dandruff/dry skin. (It shows especially on her dark fur.) While cats do clean themselves, its recommended to give them a bath occassionally. It helps get rid of some of the extra fur and takes care of those hard to reach places. They weren't happy and left me to my own devices the rest of the day! I think they were mad I redid their meticulously done hair without permission!


LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

Amy, your first two points, in summary, are so important: rest when you need to, and look to hear God's whisper.

I believe He is speaking and calling out to us all the time. Every time He whispers to my soul, my heart looks up. I see that yours does too.


Heather@Mommymonk said...

I think Elijah may have had a flair for exaggeration too, which usually gets me in trouble as well. Hope you get some rest today and hear that sweet whisper.

Lelia Chealey said...

I loved your story of the tracks & going right when we're used to going left. I'm so visual, so that is really good!
I love that story of Elijah too!!
Good stuff my friend!

Janel said...

Oh Amy this really spoke to me today!
I was beating myself up today for taking a nap while I let my kids watch TV. I just had an exhausting and very busy morning and my brain and body needed to rest if only for 45 minutes

I read this today as a reminder that I needed that rest and to allow myself that downtime.

I often can't hear God in the whisper because I can't shut up long enough to hear him. :) This is such a good reminder as well.

sweet kitties