1 Kings 19:9
Matthew 14:30
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter.
“Lord, save me!”
Peter and Elijah are sharing some of the same issues in our two readings today. The outcome of both is virtually the same.
We are put into the middle of Elijah’s main story. Well, in the middle of the action. It is actually near the end of his life’s story. Let me back up a little bit.
Before our reading, Elijah had just destroyed the prophets of Baal. Jezebel, the one who brought the prophets of Baal into Israel, had promised to destroy Elijah in the same way. Now, this was a great success for Elijah, but when threatened by Jezebel, he chose to give up and run away, rather than continue the fight for the holiness of God and for the holiness of Israel.
He ran to the place where Moses saw the burning bush and the Israelites received the ten Commandments (it is the same mountain). The story does not tell us exactly what was in the mind of Elijah, but when God speaks to him on the mountain Elijah says that he is the only one left who is faithful to God.
Personally, I think he ran to this mountain thinking that God would start over again with him. The Israelites had abandoned the ways of God, or at least that is what Elijah thought.
So Elijah was having a bit of a crisis of faith. Which, by the way, is what Jesus said Peter had when he doubted and started sinking in the sea. But, both Peter and Elijah were willing and ready to call out to God. We heard the story of how Peter was saved in the gospel. But we did not hear how Elijah was saved.
Again, he said he thought he was alone, but the Lord told him he was not. The Lord told him who to anoint as the next king of Israel, as well as other kings. He told him to seek out Elisha and anoint him as his successor.
Now, the Scriptures do not tell us how long Elijah and Elisha were together. But as the story moves forward, we see that Elisha was given a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. This happened when Elijah was taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot.
I do not want to get too far ahead of the story by mentioning more about Elisha. What I want to focus on is this crisis of faith that I believe Elijah went through.
There may be times in your own life when you feel as though you are moving as God wanted you to, but you saw nothing but obstacles keeping you from a smooth trip.
Elijah overcame many obstacles because of his prophetic trust in God. But after some major successes, as I described earlier, he was threatened with death by Jezebel! We may not face a Jezebel in the same way, but we certainly have things that challenge our hope and faith in God.
We cannot run away to a mountain where we think we will find comfort from God. We have our families, our work, our lives that need to be dealt with. And there may be times when we feel as though we are like Peter and are sinking. And we may need time to regroup, to rethink, to re-energize as Elijah did.
Maybe this pandemic has caused you to wonder about… almost everything. Maybe this realignment that these parishes are going through is causing you to question where God is. The answer to all of this is in the readings from the first book of Kings and from the Gospel of Matthew.
Elijah stepped out from the cave in faith when he heard the still small whisper. Peter stepped out of the boat when Jesus said “come!” Both Elijah and Peter had shown evidence of their faith in God by what they had already said and done. They were also afraid. But, they were called to do more and greater things.
We are called the same way. Every one of us! If you can hear my voice, or read these words, you are called by God to do greater things than you have done so far. It does not mean that you will be taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot as was Elijah. It probably does not mean you will face death for Jesus as Peter did – though given our world today I cannot promise that.
But you and I – everyone of us – are expected by God to live his holiness. That is what will make us great. As Paul said in the reading from Romans last weekend “in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” Elijah and Peter conquered their fears, ???? even though Peter still had fears to face down.
There is an old line I remember hearing many years ago: “what does not kill us makes us stronger.” But even death cannot diminish who we are in Christ. We may be like Elijah and need to step away at times in our lives to regroup, to rethink, to re-energize. We may be like Peter who trusts enough to cry out “Lord, save me” when we feel like we are failing.
We need to trust in a God who loves us enough – to give us strength enough – that we will have faith enough – to finish what He has begun in us. As St. Paul says in another place: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.” My friends, the Saints await us! We need only to be faithful. Fear is nothing! Trust is everything! Amen.