Have you ever found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time?

I remember driving in Israel, using Google Maps to get me from point A to point B. What I didn’t realize was that, because Google was relying on very outdated information, I had crossed one of the border territories and driven into a town that I had no business being in. To make matters worse, the directions had taken me down a street that only LOOKED LIKE it connected to my way out of trouble; it actually dead-ended into a souk (a small enclosed market). Not a good situation!! Obviously, I was able to get back to a safe location, but the whole situation was quite unnerving and could have gone wrong in a thousand ways.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on a business trip in Hiroshima Japan on Aug 6, 1945. A passing plane attracted his attention. When he looked up he saw two parachutes with an object hanging beneath, descending from the sky. That’s when the atomic bomb Little Boy detonated, less than two miles away from where he stood. The blast ruptured his eardrums, left burns across his upper body and even temporarily blinded him. After spending the night in a shelter, he headed home the next day to recover — in Nagasaki.

On Aug 9, his first day well enough to return to work, he was in his boss’ office explaining what had happened three days before. As he was describing the blinding white flash of light when the bomb went off, he saw the same white flash of light through the window as Fat Man, the second atomic bomb, exploded over the city.

Yamaguchi was the only official survivor of BOTH atomic blasts. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time !!

We make our plans, and hope to accomplish our goals and dreams; but sometimes massive mountains of challenges can appear out of nowhere and block our path. That’s where the lessons we can learn from scripture – and today’s verse – give us insight.


Elijah was a powerful prophet, and a man whose faith was rock-solid and battle tested. From the outside, you’d think he was unshakeable. But don’t let outside appearances fool you, Elijah was a man. In fact, one of the New Testament writers makes the point that he was a man “just like us.” In other words, he had his ups and downs – spiritually and emotionally.

A few days ago we looked at the prophet Elijah as he faced off against 850 false prophets, called down fire from heaven, and then OUTRAN a horse-pulled chariot to a city a marathon’s distance away. (If you missed it, check out the devotional entitled “Know Your Place,” you’re going to love it.) After a day like THAT, you’d think Elijah would be filled with courage and strength; but he wasn’t.

King Ahab went home and complained to his wife about everything Elijah had done, and she became enraged. Ahab was one of the most wicked and godless kings who ever ruled Israel, but Jezebel made him look like a saint. She was vicious, vindictive, violent and utterly without moral values. She threatened to take Elijah’s life, and it was no idle threat; she had the power and the capacity to carry it out. Convinced that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, this mighty man of God fled to the deserts of southern Israel.

Don’t be too hard on Elijah. We all face times of deep despair; times when our faith seems like it is not enough to get us through. In times like that, there are things we MUST do to make it through; and things we ought to avoid.

If you’d care to read the story for yourself, you can find it in 1 Kings, chapter 19. In the midst of his personal crisis, Elijah allowed his fear to drive him. That’s NEVER a good decision. Then he isolated himself. He left his servant and friend behind in a city called Beersheba, but Elijah kept on running into the desert. Tired and alone, Elijah gave up emotionally; he sat down and asked God to take his life. He was done! There was no more fight in the warrior, he wanted to quit – permanently. He still believed in God, which is why he asked God to take his life; but Elijah didn’t trust God’s ability to deal with this personal crisis, which is also why he asked God to take his life!


God knew precisely what Elijah needed. God gave him REST, and Elijah slept. God sent ANGELS, who are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. The angel provided fresh bread and cool water, strength and refreshment. Then God led his prophet on a six week walk through the wilderness, but into His presence. In other words, he provided Elijah with TIME TO UNWIND and not deal with the daily pressures of his ministry. But through it all, God was bringing Elijah to the place where he could hear God’s voice.

When Elijah finally comes into God’s presence, God asks him a very strange question: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

And THAT, my friends, is where Elijah finally spills his guts to the Lord. All the pain on the inside erupts to the outside. Elijah says, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

Can I give you the “Bishop Robert Version” of that little speech? Because Elijah is telling God in no uncertain terms that he feels unappreciated, abandoned, useless, disrespected, attacked and hopeless. He basically says, “You know what God, I don’t think you’ve noticed how hard I’ve been working to advance YOUR Kingdom!!! You’re supposed to be the Commander In Chief of Heaven’s armies, but I haven’t seen the troops rally around me!!! I preach and preach and preach, but Israel doesn’t listen to a word I say. The opposite!! They abandon You and attack me and everyone who serves You. I’m the last man standing up for you, and now they want to kill me!”

Please notice that God doesn’t argue with Elijah and put him down. God is big enough to handle our expressions of anger and fear. Instead God reminds Elijah of who it is he is serving, and tells him to go and stand on the mountain because God is coming to meet Elijah.

The first thing Elijah sees as God approaches is powerful, hurricane-force winds so strong they are literally ripping the mountain apart with such force that boulders shatter as they collide. But God hadn’t shown up yet. After the hurricane, an earthquake continues to rip the mountain apart piece-by-piece. But God still hadn’t shown up yet. Then fire falls and erupts, consuming whatever is still hanging around on the mountain. Even in the consuming fire, God hadn’t arrived.

Then Elijah hears a gentle whisper. It is God, now on the scene for a meeting that will change everything. Speaking tenderly, His voice draws Elijah out of the cave and into His presence. Amazingly enough, God asks the prophet the very same question. In my mind, I hear it a bit differently. And I think Elijah’s answer was much softer. But still no condemnation from God, no accusations of quitting and abandoning the work.

Instead, the Lord renews Elijah and his call. He tells him , “Go Back.” God makes it clear that He’s not done with Elijah. There are going to be more battles ahead, but he promises that Elijah will be the victor … again. There’s a lot of work still to be done. Kings to anoint, prophets to ordain, a nation to reach. And oh, by the way, God has seven thousand faithful servants in Israel who are still fully faithful, so Elijah is not nearly as alone as he thought.


The key to staying in the fight and finding the victory is not found in hurricanes of one crisis after another swirling around us at breakneck speed. It is not found in a world that is falling apart. It is not even found in the flaming fires of sacrificial dedication. The true key to walking in victory is taking the time to wait for the whispers of God. To make time to draw close and listen for His quiet voice as He speaks encouragement, refreshing and direction into our lives.

If you think you’ll find your strength in the battle, you’ll be worn out before the war is won.

The deepest and strongest strength is found sitting quietly, allowing God to enter and wrap His arms around us. And there, in His tender embrace, He will whisper softly in our ear and equip us for all He calls us to do. It’s in the quiet place of HIs presence — THAT is where the strength comes from.

Today, I encourage you to find time to LISTEN for the voice of God. There may be people out to destroy you, your family, your reputation, or your calling. The massive foundation rocks you’ve relied upon may be shattering before your eyes, and your world may seem like it’s breaking apart. But wait for the whisper. Listen to the questions God asks you, and more importantly, the answers He will give.

God doesn’t ask questions because He doesn’t know the answer. He asks questions because YOU don’t … yet.

He’s not finished with you. He’s not abandoned you. Wait for the whisper.


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