Have you ever had a “broom-tree” moment?
In 1 Kings 19:1-8, Elijah is fleeing from King Ahab and Jezebel who are evil and murdering all of Israel’s prophets. As Elijah wanders in the wilderness, he comes to a broom tree and sits down. He is exhausted – physically from his running and spiritually from being rejected as God’s prophet. He prays for God to take his life because he’s had enough.
We all experience times of frustration and exhaustion. Life can be overwhelming. Like Elijah, we pray for an end to whatever is causing us conflict. We desire to escape the demands of life and flee into the wilderness. We might climb into bed and pull the covers over our head or binge a mind-numbing show or go for a long walk or drive. Hopefully, though, we make our occasional escapes by healthy means.
After praying for death, totally exhausted, Elijah sleeps. Sometimes we just need to get away and rest awhile. We take a good retreat or go on a relaxing vacation or put everything aside to just play with our kids or take a very long nap. Our bodies, minds, and souls need rest, especially when life gets overwhelming.
While Elijah was resting under the broom tree, an angel wakes him twice and tells him to eat and drink the hearth cake and jug of water beside him so that he will have strength to continue his journey. In our frustration and exhaustion, God may send an angel to us to give us refreshment. God’s angel may be a friend, co-worker, family member, or spiritual director. The nourishment God gives to us through these angels might be an ear to listen to us as we vent our frustrations and prayers offered to sustain us in our difficult moments. We need these angels to remind us that God is with us and always watches over us.
After Elijah rests and refreshes himself with the hearth cake and water, he continues his journey and walks forty days and nights to Mount Horeb. After resting and renewing ourselves, we can continue to persevere in our journey through life. God’s grace strengthens and sustains us for what is yet to come.
At Mount Horeb, Elijah experiences a strong and violent wind, an earthquake, and a fire. (1 Kings 19:9-13) The chaos around Elijah continues. It was in a light silent sound, however, that Elijah heard the voice of God. He covers himself with his cloak and listens. When we are surrounded by the chaos of life, God is still whispering to us in the silence of our hearts. Like Elijah, we need to become quiet, cover ourselves by turning inward, and listening to God’s light silent voice speaking to our hearts.