Cherishing Cherith

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.’ And the word of the Lord came to him: 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.’ So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” 1 Kings 17:1-6

Announcing to the cruel King Ahab that his kingdom faced a long drought would not bring a happy reception, and God averted any backlash for His beloved prophet afterward by directing him to the safety and provision of the brook Cherith. We can hear the fresh waters trickle, sense the cool shade, and imagine the cheery birds winging Elijah’s sustenance to him twice a day, as on cue in a movie. Surely God knows the strain of our obedience to Him, and personally cares for our every need in every place. As clearly as He leads us to His determined paths and the challenges they hold, He leads also to places of refreshment and nourishment so we have strength for the next call.

Elijah fed by ravens, 18th c Delft plaque

Elijah then rose and trekked to Zarephath, where he saved the lives of a widow and her son. No assignment from his Lord was too trivial, and none went unsupplied. He could make frightening pronouncements in royal chambers, and he would minister to a poor widow. Listen, follow, trust, He will do the hard work, I am merely an agent.

How willing am I to obey my Lord’s hard commands? What excuses do I use to skirt them, change their requirements, or avoid receiving them altogether? How determined am I to escape to the Cheriths my God provides? Do I avoid them for fear of a new call that requires too much, that removes me from where I’d rather be, from comfort, from my plans? Do I neglect them because of busyness, because I have an insatiable need to get on with my day, my tasks, and have no time to go and hide and drink and wait for unseen spiritual food?

When we turn from listening to God and following through with what He asks of us, we miss being fed by ravens. We miss the quiet by still waters, and the supernatural, sufficient sustenance only God supplies. We never learn to cherish the Cheriths He prepares. Evading the Lord’s beckoning is evading the excitement of life surrendered to Him, the discovery of all He intends to give if only we would run to Him and trust Him. (Psalm 23:2-3; Philippians 4:19)

Giver of every gift, thank You for the Cheriths You graciously provide. May I ever draw away to hide with You there, take in Your good sustenance, and continue on in the next divine call You issue. (James 1:17)

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