Monday, April 23, 2018

Devotionals for the Heart: Thoughts on Time and Eternity


An Intersection of Time and Eternity
A devotional by Dana McNeely

Note: This is the fourth post in a series on the prophet Elijah. To read previous posts, click the titles: Love in the Time of Drought, In the Waiting Room, and A Widow, a Prophet, and Provision from God.

After Elijah reached Zarephath and found shelter with the widow and her son, they lived under God’s blessings. Though the drought worsened, the never-ending jug of oil and jar of meal nourished them. It would have been reasonable to expect the good times to continue.

However,
 some time later the widow’s son became ill. He grew worse and worse and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” (1 Kings 17:17-18 NIV)

I feel for this poor woman. One moment she ate the bread of life, the next she gagged on the stench of death. Anguished, she lashed out, but then secret guilt whispered. Did you come to remind me of my sin? Any mother would be devastated by her child’s death, but she’d already lost her husband. Now she was alone in the world.

I don’t know about you, but I want life to roll along smoothly. When it does, I often forget to thank God, taking everyday blessings for granted. But when trouble strikes, it’s easy to complain or blame others or myself.

I know this is unreasonable. We live in a fallen world, and God hasn’t promised immunity from its hardship, even to those who follow him. Think of Joseph, who ran from Potiphar’s wife but still ended up in prison. Or Daniel, who refused to quit praying and then faced lions.

Though I empathize with the widow’s reaction, what I find interesting is Elijah’s calm response to her remarks. Known for his somewhat hot temper, Elijah didn’t remind her of all he’d already done to help her and her son. In humility, he ignored her harsh words, and in faith, he took this problem to the Lord.

“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!" (1 
Kings 17:19-24 NIV)

The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!"

Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”

I believe the Lord prepared the widow’s heart with a whisper before Elijah even arrived. She must have heard the truth about God’s love and claims on her life during the time the prophet lived with her and her son. Yes, she reacted out of pain and confusion when her son suddenly died. Such a response doesn’t mean she had no faith … only that it faltered. In quietly asking the widow to give him her son, Elijah allowed her time to quiet her soul and consider. And the Lord, in his mercy, ignored her outburst and looked on her heart, where a tiny spark of faith burned.

In an intersection of time and eternity, God reached down and touched the widow’s son, restoring him to life. Yes, he was still subject to a fallen world; he would grow old and die again. But now, more than ever before, he was his mother’s comfort and a blazing example of God’s mercy and miraculous power. If the widow’s faith in God was a spark before, it was a sturdy flame now.

Do you believe in miracles? When Paul met with Agrippa, the apostle asked, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8 KJV)

Have you ever experienced that which only God can do? Perhaps your miracle was as soft as a whisper to the heart or as earth-shattering an event that, even now, you can hardly bring yourself to speak of. An intersection of time and eternity.

I leave you with this final thought from the great Bible scholar A.W. Pink: “Bring into the scene the living God, and no matter how drastic and desperate be the situation, all difficulties a once disappear, for nothing is impossible to him.”

*For further reading: Elijah by A.W. Pink
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Author Bio: 
Inspired by the Bible story of Elijah and the widow’s son, Dana McNeely wondered why the prophet had come to stay with these two. Who were they? What was their life, before? And how did the boy change after dying, seeing the other world … and coming back? 

Dana began research for her novel, “Rain,” which tells the story of the three-and-a-half-year drought from the boy’s perspective.

No stranger to drought, Dana lives in an Arizona oasis with her hubby the constant gardener, two good dogs, an antisocial cat, and migrating butterflies. She writes biblical fiction, cozy mysteries, and has written for magazines and newspapers. Her short story “Death in the Butterfly Garden” appears in SoWest: Killer Nights (2017).

Connect with Dana on Facebook, Twitter, or DanaMcNeely.com

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this special message. Have a blessed week!

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  2. Thank you, Melissa! May the Lord bless your comings and goings as well.

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  3. Never really pondered the details of this story. I appreciate folks like you that help us to see the Word of God through different eyes. Thanks for this devotional.

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  4. Thanks, Jan. The most important thing I learned while studying Elijah was how his faith grew strong - based on fervent prayer and waiting for the Lord's instruction. The Bible tells us he was a man like any other, but when he prayed fervently that it would not rain - it didn't. Amazing.

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