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June 20, 2022

“And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:12-13, KJV).

About six and a half years ago during my morning Advent devotions I felt moved to write a weekly blog based on the lectionary—the weekly Scripture texts set aside to read in churches across Christendom.  Our daughter had set up my website in 2011 and I had written a few faith-centered blogs about once a month for a couple of years, but I put the project on hold after my laptop crashed in 2013.  When I got the new laptop, my first Apple computer, I didn’t want to take the time to learn how to use it.

Between 2013 and 2015 I felt the call to write a weekly blog on the lectionary, but I had reasons to demur.  I rationalized that any reasonable person would conclude that I didn’t have time: I still had child-rearing duties and I had a challenging full-time public sector law practice that often required me to work after hours and on week-ends.   In addition, I was involved in our church, hosted two small group Bible studies in our home, and hosted a monthly quilting/crafts group to create items to sell to raise funds for at risk women, babies, and children.  In the past, my answer to the call had been–“Really??!!  You’ve got to be kidding!  I do not have the time to do this.”  

But when God planted the idea again in early December 2015, I resignedly answered: “Ok, God.  I can’t possible conceive that I can write 52 blogs per year—so you are going to have to help me big time.  This is your project. If you really want me to do this, you will have to give me the words.”  And with that, I embarked upon writing a weekly blog based on the lectionary.   

I was right about one thing:  that I could not do it by myself.  Many times I have read through the Scripture texts, meditated on them, and have come up with a blank on how to tie them together into one cohesive statement.  But God has come through and has been with me every step of the way.  As I reflect on my journey over the past several years, I have concluded that it is very possible that he intended for me to pass the first few times so that I could clear my calendar and purchase a new computer. 

At any rate, I do know that God meets us where we are when he taps us on the shoulder.  And he expects us to answer the call within the orbit of our lives.  We can echo David’s words: “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing’” (Psalm 16: 2).  God is the source of all of our blessings.  Everything good in our lives is a gift from God.  He will not steer you in the wrong direction.  He knows what you can handle, and he will equip you with what you need.  

As related in this week’s Gospel text, two people who received a call turned Jesus down.[1]  But the incidents recorded in this week’s Old Testament reading are examples of people who immediately answered the call without hesitation. 

In the Gospel text, Luke describes two incidents involving calls by Jesus to followers to join his group of disciples.  The first gave the excuse of having to bury his father.  Jesus does not want us to renege on our responsibilities to our families, but on the other hand, using them as an excuse doesn’t cut it either. Some scholars think that the man’s father may have been elderly, and that the son wanted to wait until he died before taking off with Jesus (Luke 9: 59-60).  Did the man really want to follow Jesus?  Could he have made other arrangements for the care of his father?  Jesus’ ministry was centered in a very small area around Capernaum.  The man wouldn’t have been very far away.  We can always find excuses not to answer Jesus’ call.  

The other man also used his family as an excuse.  We all have reasons why we can’t go—why we can’t follow Jesus.  And following Jesus will require sacrifices.  We may need to give up outside activities, some of our work, or give up some of our leisure time and activities for a period of time. 

Elijah heard the “still small voice” of God and answered the call: “And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).  Elijah was totally exhausted after he defeated the prophets of Baal, but God gave Elijah instructions, which he followed to a T.  One of those instructions was to anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet.  When he located Elisha, Elisha was plowing his fields with his oxen. Elijah put his cloak on Elisha as a symbol to show that he would become Elijah’s successor. 

Elisha immediately accepted, and to show his firm commitment, he slaughtered his oxen, and burned his plowing equipment to cook the meat for the people: “He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.” (1 Kings 19:21).  In destroying the tools of his livelihood, he figuratively burned his bridges behind him to show that his commitment to the cause of God was unequivocal and irrevocable.

Jesus calls each and every one of us to live out his truth in our ordinary daily lives.  That is our calling—our vocation as Christians.  We are called to live our faith in our families, at our workplace, in our church, in our community, and in the world.  The Spirit is with us every step of the way.  Listen for the “still small voice” of God as you spend time with him reading and meditating on the Word.  Pay attention to the thoughts he plants in you and the opportunities that come your way to serve.  And be open to the call.  

Prayer: Lord, open our ears and our hearts so that we can hear you still small voice in the depths of our souls.  Continue to inspire us and to speak to us through you Word and in prayer during our lifelong journey. Give us the desire and the means to answer your call.  Thank you for walking with us as we seek to do your will. Amen

[1] The Scripture texts for next Sunday are 1 Kings 19:9b-21; Psalm 16; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62.

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