1 Kings 19:11-13

What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v. 13)

God asks Elijah this question twice, this time after coaxing him out of the cave on Mt. Horeb. It sounds more like a question Elijah could have been asking himself throughout his past 40 days on the run. “How did this happen to me?” “What have I done?” “What am I doing here?”

Have you ever asked yourself such a question? Maybe you asked it at a time when things seemed to fall into place and you found yourself happier than you could imagine. Or maybe you asked it in a moment that was exactly the opposite. God doesn’t give Elijah any answers to his desperate situation. In fact, God is the one who presents this question for Elijah to ponder.

Maybe God does this because Elijah needs to face up to the answer that he already knows deep down. Like that time you needed to make a difficult choice or face an uncomfortable truth, so you polled everyone you know to put off facing facts. Most of the time, we know all along, deep down, what it is we need to do. In those times, the hard but necessary thing to do is to stop, clear away the noise and distractions, and be quiet enough to really listen to your heart of hearts. Then pluck up the courage to follow through.

This story of Elijah’s encounter with God on Mt. Horeb is powerful because God is not in the spectacle and Elijah doesn’t need God to be. Elijah doesn’t need God to be in the wind, or the fire, or in any earth-shaking event. Elijah needs God to be grounded with him in the silence because it is there that Elijah knows, deep down, what he’s known since God called him: although the road ahead won’t be easy, it is his path to take.


How would you answer if God asked you, “What are you doing here?”


God, help me to clear away the distractions and noise that keep me from knowing the truth you’re trying to show me. Amen.

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