Now Elijah the Tishbite, said to Ahab,
“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives,
Whom I serve,
There will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years
Except at my word.” 1 Kings 17
The Lord exalts his prophets to the court of princes,
He tells him what is to happen,
Giving him power one cannot fathom.
Which can make him seem crazed.
And how does he equip his prophet
To deal with the electricity
Of the knowledge of what is to come,
The burden of being thought a fool
Which can belong to those who hear the word of God?
After seasons of great visibility,
He moves him to hiddenness.
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah:
“Leave here, turn eastward
and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.
“The Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, Lord?
But I heard you call me to the court of the King
I thought that was my vocation.”
But I now call you to something different.”
“But the Kerith Ravine is barren,
It has no food.
No one lives there.
I have heard men tell of the healing power of social support
I have read that it is not good for man to be alone.
I have heard that iron sharpens iron,
That you show each man a slightly
Different diamond-facet of your face,
So that in community, the jigsaw
Of your revelation of yourself is complete
‘Go alone to the Kerith Ravine.’
I might be lonely there.”
“You might, Elijah, you might.
But I will meet you there,
Teach you there,
Comfort you there.
Can I be heard amidst the pomp of Ahab’s court,
The adulation of the people of Israel
The laughter, warmth and happy
after-echoes of friendship?
When you talk all the time
When people talk to you all the time
When conversation echoes in your ears
And you leave head whirring with yeasty talk,
Can you still hear my voice,
My gentle whisper?
It is more difficult.
You might well be lonely.
But I who created you
And know the secret roots within you
Which neither you nor the world has guessed,
I will be your friend.
I will nourish you,
Teach you of the joy of my presence,
Fill you with laughter as I draw near,
Flow through you in waves of liquid love,
Make you drunk with the wine of my spirit.
I will teach you that though I am a giver
And love to give you the good things I have created
I am, in fact, enough.
And you will know that for sure
When all you have is me.
I am enough.
I am even practical.
You will drink from the brook,
And I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.
Providing for you though what your people reckon unclean.
So Elijah went to the Kerith Ravine,
and the ravens brought him bread and meat
and he drank from the brook.
Some time later, the brook dried up
Because there had been no rain in the land.
“Lord, did I not hear you command me to drink from this brook,
And it is now dry.
“You did, Elijah,
And it is indeed now dry.
But, though you may not suspect me of it,
I am, in fact, intensely practical.
When necessary, I speak new words.
Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.
I have commanded a widow to supply you with food.
Yes, I know it is the centre of Baal worship.
But I will again provide for you through the least
Of those you reckon unclean
Blessing them and you
In the circle of blessing in which I delight. ”
“But I had heard you call me to be a hermit by the brook.
I have grown to rather like it here.
I thought that was my vocation.”
But today is a new day,
And I come to you with a new word.
As I will keep coming as long as you live
Shaking you with new wisdom, new challenges,
And mercies new every morning.”
So Elijah went to Zarephath.