Great Plains Daily Devotional for 3/4/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Broken Bow UMC
Gateway District
Burwell UMC
Taylor Calvary UMC
Gateway District
Callaway UMC
Morning Star UMC
Gateway District
Bartley: Kemper Memorial UMC
Cambridge Trinity UMC
Indianola UMC
Gateway District

Today's Lectionary Text

1 Kings 19:1-8 (NRSV) 

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. 

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” 8 He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. 

Today's Devotional

We know that this story will lead to Elijah’s encounter with the sheer silence of God. But here Elijah is weary, and he goes into the wilderness to pray, to pray that he might die, to end his disappointment. He has tried so hard, to be the lone voice of Yahweh standing up to the prophets of Baal. but he is weary. It is too hard, and he wishes to be relieved from his calling. So, he sits down to die. 

The angel comes and says, “You have work to do, eat and be strengthened.” We think of the Lenten journey as the walk in the wilderness, a walk that will lead us into the apprehension of the mystery of God. That is a journey that takes strength, that takes stamina, that takes discipline. Lenten disciplines are not primarily about our stamina and strength, but on taking on God’s provisions so that we may grow closer to God. 

People ask me what I am giving up for Lent. I am not giving up anything, nor do I encourage anyone else to give something up. What is important is not what you give up for Lent, but what you do to prepare for an encounter with God. Elijah thought he had failed because he had not succeeded in his prophetic task and now he was being hunted by the forces of Jezebel. Lenten discipline is not a New Year’s resolution to test your mettle, your strength, your stamina, your determination, it is a path to encounter God. On Ash Wednesday, we mark ourselves with ashes and hear the pronouncement that we are but dust, and we will return to dust. This is the great truth Elijah must learn: our life and our death is in the hands of God. It is our truth as well as we climb the 40 days to the mount of God.  

-- Rev. Daniel Norwood
Washington-Haddam-Barnes, Kansas, UMCs

Prayer for Reflection

O Lord, provide for us as we embark on our journey to encounter you on your Holy Mountain. Bless our Lenten disciplines that they may lead us to love you more, and to proclaim that love in our words and actions. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen 


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