Where Is God Moving

Pastor Rachel B. Livingston 

 I. Beginning

WANTED: Dead or Alive.  The decree had gone out, Elijah was a wanted man.  Jezebel had seen the destruction that Elijah had brought about according to the Lord’s will, because the people had chosen to worship Baal over God, and for it she wanted blood.  She would not rest until Elijah, the servant and prophet of the Lord, was killed.  His life was at stake, and Jezebel wanted his head served on a platter – to her, he was worthless and no longer deserved to live.  He was WANTED: Dead or Alive!  The word had been spread throughout the land, passing from person to person as a decree, with the expectation that those who heard it would turn over this prophet of the Lord, unless they wanted to meet the same fate. Surely in this moment Elijah felt his heart begin to race, a heavy fear and sorrow weighed down on him, he began to jitter, his mind was all scattered, and his whole body began to sweat – for he was a Wanted Man – Wanted Dead or alive.  And if the monarchy was successful in catching him, surely his life was over.  God had called him to be a prophet, but nowhere in this agreement did Elijah conceive that doing this work of God, would cause him to meet his demise.  He was a Wanted Man – Wanted Dead or Alive. The only solution to preserve his life was to flee – to head on a journey that could somehow keep him out of harms way.


He travels on his way throughout the desert, beads of sweat dripping down his face, heart beating out of his chest, stumbling every now and then as he rushed along the desert floor, ducking behind rocks so as not to be detected – his fear rose, his sorrow became overwhelming.  He was a wanted man – wanted dead or alive – if Jezebel had her way, his days were surely numbered.  He was exhausted, feet dragging along the way, dry heaving from the stress that rested within his belly – but he had to get away – dying at the hands of the Israelites could not be his fate, they were his people and he was just trying to be faithful to God. Irrational thoughts and fear raced through his mind as he knew his fate was sealed.  The world was caving in around him and life no longer made any sense. There was the sense of the blues hanging on his heart – there was heaviness on the heart that wells up in the soul, but there was still a sense of  that melody of knowing a higher being that knew how bear this burden – even if in the moment that voice seemed to be rather quiet.  His world was caving in and this could surely be the death of him.
On his 40-day long journey, in the midst of his exhaustion, Elijah was awoken and told to eat to maintain his strength for the journey.  God was right there with him in the midst of everything.  But his mind was racing and he was still worried about the situation at hand – I mean Jezebel was out for blood, and not just any old blood, but Elijah’s blood.  He was too enraptured in his impending doom that he paid little attention to the ways that God was present in the moment. His vision was clouded by the current circumstances that he failed to take significant note of the ways that God was moving. God is right there giving comfort and Elijah is still anxious with and blinded to the way that God is already moving.  God was there giving the prophet enough strength to endure his journey for the next 40 days, so that Elijah could then meet God in the desert.  Sometimes just like Elijah, we are so caught up with the things of this world around us that we are too pre-occupied to see where God is moving.   I am not saying that life will not make us so weighed down with sorrow, nor am I saying that we are not justified in our sorrow and anxiety, but sometimes we are so preoccupied with trying to solve the problem that we don’t open our eyes to what God is currently doing and where God is currently moving – it becomes a passing thought rather than a point of encouragement or point of instruction on what to do next. 

 II. Trouble In the Text: Is Elijah Paying attention to How God is Moving?

All of this happens before we enter into our scripture this morning where our main character, this wanted man, the prophet of the Lord, comes to a cave and the Lord says, “What are you doing here Elijah?”  What do you mean what is he doing here – he is a wanted man on the run for his life – turning to God – doesn’t God know that his life is hanging on by a thread.  The world is closing in him – the people have not only stopped listening to him, but hey have stopped following God.   He is standing there looking in the abyss and the abyss is standing there looking back at him, not shrinking, as the world caves in on him. Where should he go? What should he do? How does life continue? Is there anywhere to go but God?  But maybe the real question is, has he overlooked God in some places?  Has he focused so hard on the current situation of being Wanted: Dead or Alive that he was blind to ways that God was already moving?  Was he blind to the ways that God was already taking care of his concern?

 III. Trouble In the World: Do We See Where God is Moving?

We too find ourselves in a places where we are anxious – where life is caving in on us – life seems to fold in on us and we are looking for some sort of relief. In our world today, there was an explosion in Beirut that caused quite a bit of devastation among the people of Beirut – showing that the world is full of chaos and sorrow.  And as we creep closer and closer to election day, with COVID still shaking our world through this global pandemic, some of the most simple topics and concepts seem to polarize us and put us at odds with each other.  We have been put in the place where people are so much at odds with each other for things that should not be partisan issues that we are tearing each other apart.  To be Christian and be aware of the things that God is calling us to, we are agitated, because the reality is that when people are hurting in the world our heart breaks where the Lord’s does.  And when we see people suffering from injustice, we carry the burden of trying to establish God’s justice.  When racism, sexism, classism, and poverty exist we are disrupted because it limits the existence of the Kingdom of God that allows people from different walk of life, regardless of who they are or what they have done, to exist in the love of the God and the peace of Jesus Christ.  When we see the homeless, the rejected, and the hurting mistreated we are broken and urged to spread the love of Jesus Christ. It brings us to the question, where is the church?  Where are our people? Where are the faithful few? Where are the ones who are seeking to build the Kingdom of God – loving one another regardless of who we are or where we come from?  Maybe even be saying, the world looks so different now and that has dramatically changed the way that we function as the church, so what does that mean for us God? Where do we go? What do we do? The world is caving in on us God, where are you? How can we possibly think about things in an unconventional way, without your direction? God, where are you? But have we overlooked some ways in which God is already moving? Have we opened our eyes to some of the things God is making work, in the midst of the current situation of the world caving in on us?

We as people can at times become so consumed with what is going on around us that our heart begins to race, sweat begins to fall from our brow, we begin to shake, and it all feels like the world is caving in on us.  The world around us is at odds and we begin to be like Elijah – speaking in hyperbole and feeling like we are alone and that no one else is faithful to the Most High God.  So we panic and we act with irrational behavior, ignoring the reality that God is still sovereign, rather than turning to the only one who brings us life, we are so caught in our frustration and nerves that we want to seek out God but we are blinded to some of the things that God is doing right in front of our eyes – so caught up in our frustration and fear that we forget the ways that God has been with us on the journey, providing for us now.  Now this isn’t to say that something is wrong with us when we feel the weight of the world on us, but sometimes we have to open our eyes to the fact that God is sovereign, and has always been with us on the journey, through the good and the bad, in the ups and the downs.  In the midst of this, we are pushed into a world in where we are confused because due to COVID-19 our world looks completely different, and the reality is that even when we emerge from this pandemic the world will be completely different.  The way we do church, the way we do ministry, the way we relate to one another, will all be different.  Life will not look the same. This means that we need to begin to look at doing things in a new way, outside of the box.  Yet, we feel overwhelmed because we don’t know what the unconventional looks like or the ways that God is calling us to evolve with the times.   The reality is, I don’t have the answers, you don’t have the answers – and we just want to return to the way things were before we got here.  But life is no longer the same and we must break from the homeostasis and challenge the ways we function as the church, evolving from what has been to what will be.  With all this we have no answers and we become anxious, feeling like there is no sense of direction for what comes next.

 IV. Hope In the Text: Wait For The Lord

As we turn back to our scripture, we see that God turns to Elijah and tells him to go out to the mountain and wait for the Lord.  Elijah was a wanted man, wanted dead or alive, and in the midst of the chaos, God tells him to go out and wait for the Lord to reveal God’s self.  So, there was a great wind, a great wind so hard, that it split the rocks of the mountain; then there was an earthquake; and then there was a fire, but God was in none of these.  The irony is that in this ancient tradition, God was often associated with these things, and yet all these things occurred and God was not in any of them.  So, if Elijah was paying attention to them, he would have missed God. As Elijah waited for the Lord it was in the soft quiet whisper that God was present.  It was the whisper of the song in his ear, the soothing quiet hum of the Lord, the quiet whisper of peace that God was present.  It was in this sound of sheer silence that the Lord gave direction to Elijah on what to do.  In this moment we see that God is sovereign and that God’s power transcends all the bounds that we try to put on God.  But we also see that we have to open our eyes to what God is saying in this moment because God can and will show up in ways that we do not expect. God is not always in the loud boom or the powerful bang, but sometimes God is in the subtle wind and the light whisper.  Or maybe even in all of it.  As we move throughout the world, we are stuck in the heaviness of the world.  It has made us cry, made us bend and break, and made our hearts race – but even though we feel like our worlds are caving in, that we have been broken beyond belief, God says go out and wait on me, wait to hear a word from me.  As we stand in this place where the structure of our lives is evolving, where the structure of the church is evolving, we are looking for God’s direction for what to do next.  But we have to open ourselves up to the ways that God is moving, to be vigilant in ways that open ourselves in vulnerability to hear the answers. God might be in the wind, God might be in the shaking of the earth, God might be in the rain, God might be in the fire, or maybe God is not in any of these but in the whisper that calls to us as we lay our head down at night.  Whatever the case may be, we have to open ourselves to hear the Lord and the direction that comes from God and God alone.  History has shown us that God has shown up in quite unconventional ways – God showed up in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham when the Children took action in the Children’s March revealing just how atrocious the acts of violence and racism were, to make the country deeply aware of the injustice in segregation.  These were Children taking action.  God showed up in the Seneca Falls convention as women gathered beginning to bring about women’s equality in the women’s suffragist movement.  God showed up when this nation when America was built on a concept of democracy that is governed by the people for the people rather than an overlord of a monarchy.  And God showed up when humanity was lost in sin and death and yet a savior was offered upon a cross – beaten and bruised for our iniquities, took on the lashes for our transgressions – he suffered death upon that cross and rose on the third day bringing us new life and redemption.  In each case, the world was so chaotic that it seemed like the world was caving in.  The world was changing and things were challenging, yet things needed to be done outside of the box to make significant change.  And as God is sovereign, in everything and in control, God moved in unexpected ways.  However, people needed to pay attention and take the direction of the Lord.  We must do the same.

 V. Conclusion: What Do We Do?

 I challenge each of us, this week, to spend some time in prayer this week – to take significant time to sit down and spend time with God whether it be 10 minutes or an hour – spend intentional significant time with God. Spend time with God through fasting, journaling, meditation, or any way that you connect with God. Let us open our eyes to the ways that God is moving, and opening up our ears to what God is saying in us.  As we do this, let us seek to see the ways that God is calling us to live as the church in the new evolution of the world that we live in.

Where is God moving? Open our eyes, that we might see. Where is God moving? Open our ears that we might hear. Is God in the loud gust of the winds and the rain?  Is God in the thunder and the lightning? Is God in the powerful flames of fire? Is God in the shaking of the foundations of the earth? Or is God in the soft sheer silence? Where is God?  Let us be vigilant and watch for the ways that God is moving, that we might act according to God’s will and move in ways that God is calling us to.  Amen.