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1 Kings 19:1-3
by Jonathan Beckham

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The Choices We Make
by Jonathan Beckham

There are crossroads in our lives when we must choose a path or direction. Do we take this job or that one? Do we move to another state or stay where we are living now? Do we have a child or wait a year? Sometimes we choose by not choosing at all. But we will look back at our decisions and wonder: “Was that what God chose for me? Did I involve God in my decision? Or possibly, did I choose wrong?” Some say there is no wrong or right; it is predetermined. Either way, we all have a moment when we wonder: What if I had given it all to God?

There was a moment when Elijah the prophet ran and I have heard other Christians ask: “Well, what if he stayed?” or “Shouldn’t he have stayed and put his faith in God?” Here’s what happened: Elijah became afraid and ran away! Unlike David who turned and fought Goliath, Elijah fled! What if God had wanted him to turn and oppose Jezebel with His help? Here’s what he did as recorded in Scripture:

Now Ahab (Jezebel’s husband) told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the (false) prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’ Elijah was afraid and ran for his life...” (1 Kings 19:1-3)

Did Elijah need to be afraid? If you ask my opinion, I will reply whole-heartedly: NO! He didn’t, and neither do we! Everything I have read and understand in the Bible says that we need do not need to be afraid because we can trust in God. Scripture teaches:

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

Did Elijah not know about this? Or did he just get caught up by a scary moment? I cannot tell you I would not have run because we all get afraid. I have had moments in my life when the bully won and I ran instead of praying about it and giving it to God. But if you agree with me and knowing what we know…if he had turned and defiantly faced Jezebel’s wrath, wouldn’t God have protected him? I think so, but the truth is: we don’t know because he didn’t do it. But I do know I analyze my own decisions the same way that I analyze Elijah’s decision. I look back and think…Wow, God’s will was here and it’s not what I chose to do. And I may be right…my life might have been different if I had chosen what I believed God wanted me to do. But I am not going to beat myself up mentally and to relive those decisions as if they were preventable. I will use them to help my future decisions, but that is where I must stop! These moments are not meant to torture us, but instead to teach us and help us in the future.

Here is what happened to Elijah after he ran.

…”while he himself went a day’s journey in the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord.’” He said, “’Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again” (1 Kings 19:4-6).

We can look backward in time and conclude he had two choices. 1) Run, or 2) stand with the Lord and fight. Elijah ran. But in the verses above, how is it that God wasn’t angry with him? He wasn’t angry because He still had a plan for Elijah’s life, just as He does for yours:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)

And most important: God LOVES you! He knows you are not perfect. When we look back on our decisions, we may be able to see where God was leading us and apply it to future decisions. Even though you are not perfect and no matter what you chose, God is still with you. He never left you, just like he didn’t leave Elijah after he ran.

Another thing of great importance about the above verse describing Elijah’s race to the desert is that when Elijah was done running…he still prayed. Even though he prayed for death…he still called upon God and prayed. He gave the moment to God who comforted him and brought him back to His will. The same God will bring us all back to His will, even after our decisions...but we have to prayerfully surrender like Elijah did…even when we feel like we have chosen a horribly wrong path. God will bring us back to the way we should go:

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:7-8)

The Lord who had never left him, now comforted him. It was then time to move on and for the Lord to lead him to the next step on his journey. The Lord then led him to a place to strengthen him:

…“And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 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 Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 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 Lord said to him, ‘Go back the way you came…’” (1 Kings 19:9-15)

That’s a long quote, but it’s important to capture the moment. The Lord allowed amazing things to happen before Elijah’s eyes—contrasting roaring winds, fire and an earthquake with His still small voice. Elijah was sent back on the path with new confidence and a renewed faith in the Lord. He was now given a choice: He could return to the place where he went off track and start again.

Have faith, for the Lord may be strengthening you spiritually with renewed confidence and a deeper faith in the Lord just like Elijah. And once you have been strengthened and the Lord declares you ready, He will lead you back to His will, just like He did with Elijah.

Holy Father, our past has been decided, but let us learn from our past and trust in You, Lord, with our decisions. We can look back on our decisions with doubt, but all that matters is Your will now. Lead us, Lord, in the direction You want us to go. In Jesus Name. Amen.

By Jonathan Beckham
Audio by Pastor Ron Beckham
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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