This week I have the privilege of serving a group of women who use television to share hope with women around the world. We're in the idyllic setting of the Princess Islands--a short ferry ride from Istanbul, Turkey.
So, what's the problem?
In an ironic twist, I had led a discussion on I Kings 19 earlier in the day. In that passage, God has just defeated the prophets of Baal and Elijah has seen God rain down fire from heaven and ignite soaking wet wood. The people recognize the presence and power of God and a lengthy drought ends in a downpour. It was a big ministry day.
But instead of riding on a spiritual high, Elijah finds himself afraid of a woman--Jezebel. She was a scary woman, but after what he'd just experienced you'd think he might have some faith that God would protect him. His weariness quickly turns to whining and he collapses under a tree and begs God to die.
As I read it today I was struck again with the usual response to a powerful experience of God. Contrary to what we think, it is often not peace and joy, but fear.
At least that's what Elijah experienced and its what I'm experiencing tonight. During one of his whining sessions Elijah confesses "I am no better than my ancestors". What an interesting thing to say after standing up to the prophets of Baal, much of Israel and the very frightening, Jezebel.
But I get it. After experiencing first hand God's powerful love and redemptive presence, I feel more unworthy than when I started. And it makes sense. To come in contact with the Holy Spirit in this way is unsettling in a beautiful way. It is so 'other' as to be enticingly disorienting. I am suddenly aware of my smallness. My complete inability to accomplish anything resembling a real work of God. And my unfitness to be a representative of this message.
This is not false humility or an feeble attempt to garner some affirmation. I believe it is the only response that makes sense. I feel appropriately uncomfortable and undone. I pray he will touch my lips with coal as he commissions me for tomorrow's work. It is the only hope I have.
But it is a well-placed hope.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,