Have you ever been in a situation where you found yourself in the midst of a large group of people and you were there feeling very alone – totally different than the rest of folks in that place? In November of 1986, I flew to London to set up the details for leading a youth missions music team to England the following summer. I traveled with the director of the mission agency on Kuwait Airlines – an airline most Americans were afraid to fly, but which fit the mission budget especially well.
The cross cultural experience began on the airplane. It was a Boeing 747 full of people, but I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my friend and I were the only Anglo-Americans on that fight. It was a flight beginning in Newark and going to London, Kuwait and ultimately Bangkok. It was a virtual United Nations on that flight, with people and children sleeping in the aisles, etc.
A university student from Pakistan was seated next to me, and I struck up a political / international issues conversation with him. After a while, he asked me, “What are your views on the nation of Israel?” … to which I looked around me and quietly whispered to him, “I don’t think my views on Israel would be very popular on this airplane.” He looked around also, and quickly grasping the situation said, “I think perhaps you might be right, let’s talk about something else.”
Some years ago I was invited to a Williamsport area event that honored women in sports, and I was in fact given an award at the event for coaching the girls cross country state champions. This was an event by the women, of the women, for the women! I was the only male who made it to the front of the room! It felt kind of silly and awkward.
Maybe that is how you often feel in your world as a believer in Jesus Christ, seeking to live out the values of Scripture. Maybe you feel all alone, totally going against the current. Isolated!
Elijah felt that way! He had just gotten done challenging the hundreds of prophets of Baal and seeing them wiped out by God. Of course, this made Queen Jezebel really angry. Elijah panics and runs away as far as he can into the wilderness and hides in a cave, where God asks…”What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1KINGS 19:14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The following answer of the Lord has always stuck me as rather humorous. Actually, God does not really deal with Elijah very specifically… he basically just gives him another job to do. I can almost imagine the Lord rolling his eyes at such a whining and wimpy answer.
1KI 19:15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
Elijah thought he was all alone, when if fact there were 7,000 others who shared his values.
And you are not alone. God has His people everywhere. And God wants His people to be united and spend time together, to encourage one another for the inevitable times we are in single combat against the enemy.
And God also has made it so that we may be a part of what He is doing in the world. We may be players in the story He is writing. How many authors allow the reader to be a living part of the adventure? … to be a partner with the hero of the story? You have to admit, that is pretty cool way to live this Christian life!