top of page

Get Up and Go -- 1 Kings 19:1-15a

In this morning’s Scripture, we find the prophet Elijah cowering in a cave. And we have to ask ourselves – as compassionate, thinking people – what’s wrong with Elijah?

Because Elijah, well, he’s one of the superheroes of the Bible – he’s a powerful prophet. He’s the prophet who takes on kings and queens, and slays the false prophets of false gods. I mean, this is the prophet who from the very beginning stood up to the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. When they don’t listen, Elijah calls down a drought on the land – flees from their wrath – and survived out in the wilderness. He is fed by ravens sent by God who bring him bread and meat. Elijah is the prophet who befriends a widow starving in that drought – and miraculously produces a jar of flour that never runs out – so that he and the widow’s family can survive. And then, when the widow’s son falls ill and died – Elijah brings him back to life.

And as we meet Elijah this morning, he’s just coming off of one of his biggest victories. He has taken on the prophets of Baal. They were all challenged to set up big bonfire piles – to see whose God would send down the fire. The prophets of Baal set up their bonfire pile. And Elijah set up his – all to see whose God was real – whose God had the power to send the fire. And to make it even harder – they drenched Elijah’s bonfire pile with water. And guess who won the challenge? Elijah. Or we could ask – of all those prophets – guess who is still alive? Elijah.

Elijah is a powerful prophet – he is a superhero of the Old Testament.

But here he is. In this morning’s Scripture. Here he is. Just after that. And he’s on the run. Queen Jezebel sends a messenger to tell Elijah – “May God do such and such to me if by tomorrow, you aren’t dead.” And Elijah takes off. Elijah goes as far south as he can. And then he leaves his servant, and sets off on his own into the wilderness. And when he can’t go one step further, he finds a broom tree, he lies down underneath it, and says, “I’ve had enough.” And he goes to sleep. He can barely lift his head off of the rock he’s using as a pillow.

What’s wrong with Elijah? Well, you know what I think? I think Elijah is... human. I think Elijah is worn out. As my grandmother would say,I think Elijah’s get up and go – has got up and went. Elijah has been engaging the fullness of life with the fullness of all that he is – living life with all he’s got. And the world has not been friendly. And life has not been easy. It can’t be easy calling down droughts, and being hunted down by kings and queens, and taking on the false prophets of false gods. And Elijah gives out. Maybe he is just exhausted. Maybe he’s in “the depths of despair.” Life and the world are overwhelming. Elijah’s get up and go has got up and went.

And maybe you know what that feels like.

It’s hard to live in the world right now. Hard to wake up in the morning and turn on the news – because the world seems to have gone mad. Our nation seems to have gone off the tracks. Our national and global problems feel bigger than we could ever fix.

I don’t know about you, but I start to feel helpless and overwhelmed.

And even closer to home. Life can be rich and rewarding, and it can also be overwhelming. It’s not easy living life in family – not easy to raise kids – or teenagers – or adult children. Not easy to live through our own aging – the aging of our parents. It’s not easy to live through illness, and our deep grieving.

During this Epiphany season, we’ve been talking about the experience of encountering something so much bigger than ourselves. Sometimes what is bigger than ourselves is ... life.

Wherever we are, whatever the nation, community, or family, we know what those days feel like when the alarm goes off, and we just want to pull the covers up and stay in bed. We know what it’s like – when it feels like our get up and go – has got up and went.

That’s where we find Elijah this morning – asleep on a rock in the wilderness under a broom tree. And so I suggest -- just this morning -- that we just lie down with him. ‘Cause life is hard. Pull up a rock for a pillow. Pull the covers back up. In any place that we are weary. Let’s just crawl up under that tree, with Elijah, and listen for what God has to say:

And the first thing that God has to say – through an angel, God’s messenger – is this: An angel comes and touches Elijah’s shoulder and says, “Get up and eat.” And Elijah opens his eyes, and sees a cake of bread baked over fresh coals, and a jar of water. There, in the middle of nowhere – a bite to eat, and a cool sip of water, on a dry dusty day. And Elijah drinks. And Elijah eats. And crawls back over under that broom tree and goes back to sleep.