Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Kings 19: The Power of Food

To set the scene, I Kings 19 begins with Elijah running for his life.  He's just pulled off two incredible miracles, has seen the power of God firsthand, and yet the words of one woman send him running for his life.  He dismisses his servant, travels a day's journey into the desert, and decides that he wants to die.  In other words, I Kings 19 begins with a cowardly, faithless, suicidal prophet.

If I were to imagine what God did next, I could guess several things:  1) Blast Elijah with a lightning bolt and incinerate him, 2) Give him the mother of all lectures and let him have it, or 3) Turn your back on him for being so faithless after such incredible displays of heavenly power.   But God didn't do that.  Oh no... God did something completely unexpected by human standards; He sent food. Yes, in I Kings 19 we have what might possibly be the world's first pizza delivery angel.
"All at once an angel touched him and said, 'Get up and eat.' He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.  The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, 'Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.' So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb." - vv. 5-8
There's something about food that breaks down walls, encourages fellowship, and facilitates meaningful conversations.  Put a hot cup of tea or coffee in someone's hand and the dialogue flows much easier than if they're sitting in a sterile office twiddling their thumbs.  Food nourishes, gives energy, and improves the mood, but that's not really what touches me here.

What touches me in this story is the incomprehensible compassion of God.  In many respects, Elijah had no reason to run for his life, let alone decide to end it!  He had no "right" to distrust God or walk away from his job.  But God never once chastised him.  He let Elijah vent, and then, without saying a word, put the kettle on and prepared a meal as if to say, "I understand. You are weary and afraid.  Here, take this and eat it.  I know the journey is too much for you."

A God who demonstrates such compassion in moments of weakness and failure completely overwhelms me.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

I can't tell you how much this hits the spot right now.
It's like eating dessert.
(vanilla ice cream with peanut butter, perhaps?)