“Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
1 Kings 17:3-4
English Standard Version (ESV)
This is probably the tenth time this verse has come up in my life. Each time it means something a little bit different, each time my need for it evolves a little. This time, it means something deeper than I can express in words, but Part 1 and 2 of this story are my attempt at sharing with you the special place in my heart it holds.
*If you missed it, visit PART 1 HERE before you read this. Otherwise it might be a little confusing.*
We left off where I realized, that this verse was more than a band-aid, more than reassurance that God would take care of me when things got tough, I realized that God put Elijah in the desert with these words, he put him out in the wilderness alone and unprepared for what he would find. Why would God do that? Isn’t he supposed to be full of love and forgiveness? Why would he send a PROPHET out to live by a brook for no reason? Especially when he could be doing good work, convincing people live Godly lives!
I was thinking about this long and hard, realizing that, like Elijah, and the Hebrews escaping Egypt, I am in the wilderness. That I am often asking these same questions, “Why me?” Despite the fact that God is providing for my family, I often lose focus and feel abandoned and as though the only way out is to pull myself up by the bootstraps, to harden my heart and carry on. I can do a mean Scarlet O’Hara when I want to. Trust me. But it is not for ‘no reason’ it is for the greatest reason, all of them were being prepared for something greater, to know God’s heart, to have more fervent faith, to believe in Him above all else. God is trying to prepare us so that we turn to him, instead of running back to our slave-owners in Egypt and giving up His plan for our lives.
But that is not what God wants. I found this sermon on the above passage, and I absolutely love the author’s explanation of this verse. He explains that God sent Elijah to “Spiritual Boot Camp.” According to this sermon the word Cherith, translates to “Cut-off” or “Cut-down” so the author says that sending Elijah there was a way of cutting him off from all the things that he knew, the places, the people, the things, but ALSO of cutting him down, of reworking him.
You may be a capable woman, whether homemaker or career woman. Then, suddenly, you are snatched from your world of endless activity and effective involvement. God says, in no uncertain terms, “Hide yourself. Get alone. Get out of the limelight. Get away from all those things that satisfy your human pride and ego and go live by the brook.”
Sometimes sickness forces such a change. Sometimes we reach the peak of our energy output and begin to burn out, or we are about to do so. Sometimes God simply removes us from one place and reshapes us for another.
The sermon goes on to discuss what happens next: when the brook dies up and the water stops flowing:
Our God is relentless. He never ceases His training regimens. He shaves off our hair; He takes away our comfortable and secure lifestyle; He moves us into cramped and unfamiliar quarters, and He changes our circle of friends — just like Marine boot camp!
In the process, He strips us of all our pride! And then He begins to lay the foundation blocks of heroic courage, and a new kind of pride, if you will — the kind that no longer defends us but defends Him. What a magnificent change that is. And how essential in our journey toward maturity! It’s all part of being cut down to size.
I’m sure I’m in for more challenges, more struggles, and so is everyone else. But it is a beautiful reminder of His plan, and His never-ending love for us.
I’m going to end this with a Robert Frost poem about a brook similar to Cherith which dried up. It is a poem that talks about perspective and love, even in the face of changing seasons.
By June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh bells in a ghost of snow)—
Or flourished and come up in jewelweed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent,
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat—
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.