You Think YOU Have Waited a Long Time?

“[Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness…and he requested that he might die; and said, ‘It is enough now, O Lord, take away my life.’” 1 Kings 19:4 (KJV)

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived, yet even he had unanswered prayers. After being assured by Jezebel that his life would come to an end, Elijah ran for the hills. He was so weary, so discouraged, he was ready to throw in the towel, give up the fight, and be at rest in the arms of God.

God did not see fit to answer this prayer, nor has He ever answered it. The book of Second Kings records how Elijah was taken by a flaming chariot into heaven without experiencing the physical death he had wished for.  So—end of story, right?

Wrong.

Skip ahead a few centuries and we find in Revelation 11 that God has remembered Elijah’s prayer and answered it.

“And when [the two witnesses] have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war with them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city…” Revelation 11:7-8

And who are these two witnesses? According to Malachi, one of the witnesses is Elijah.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6

Elijah’s prayer was heard and will be answered—he only needed to wait a few thousand years. I don’t know about you, but I get antsy after waiting a day or two for an answer to my requests. In fact, just two weeks ago God answered a prayer I had been bringing before him for over a year. It happened in a most unexpected way (which seems to be the case most often), and even today I marvel at the circumstances surrounding His answer. But there is a big difference between one year and a thousand. I can’t say for sure, but I probably would have given up believing a positive outcome was possible if a few more years had passed.  And yet, I have other requests that have been waiting for an answer for many years. Will I choose to trust God?

Understanding Elijah’s plight gives me great hope. God does not forget my prayers, even if it seems like He has decided not to answer them. The fact is, I only see the steps in front of me but I don’t see (or understand, usually) the big picture. Maybe my unanswered prayer has a greater purpose for another time—perhaps even decades or centuries from now.

Today I will continue to lay my requests at His feet, knowing He hears, He cares, and He will answer one way or another in His perfect time.

“I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.” Psalm 17:6

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Lessons From the Vacuum Cleaner

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5

Jesus and I don’t usually talk when I’m cleaning, but today was different. Monday has been my “cleaning day”, with few exceptions, since we moved to our new home last October.

Today was no different. Lucky for me, my husband had just bought a new vacuum cleaner (Why do you do that to us, husbands?) It had been sitting nicely in the corner for a week and he complained yesterday that I hadn’t used it yet. Today was the day!( Now, our previous vacuum had been out of commission for a few months, and I had spent several weeks on my hands and knees picking up the noticeable pieces of garbage.)

For some reason God decided to make His presence evident in the mundane task of vacuuming. In fact, during my 5 hour clean-fest, He revealed countless spiritual illustrations.

The most striking one revolved around the dirt in my carpet. As I vacuumed room after room, making several trips to the garbage bag dumping the vacuum canister, I was brought back to that day in April. The day my life changed. The day I spent 4 hours repenting.

For 4 years I had been on my hands and knees picking up the big pieces of sin from my spiritual carpet until that day in April where God ran His vacuum cleaner over my soul. I hadn’t been off the deep end running amok in all sorts of depravities. No, I had spent the last few years reading, studying and soaking in every bit of God’s word that I could. I served in my church, and was learning how to serve my husband. I was growing. You would never have thought I needed to spend a day repenting of much. I know I didn’t.

When that new vacuum rolls over the dirty carpet, so much is revealed that was invisible to the naked eye.

Just like my living room carpet, I was unable to pick up the finite pieces of dust with my hands. And so it is for most of us. We walk through our lives with our 15 minute devotions in the morning and ten minutes of prayer at night (twenty minutes if there’s a crisis) picking up the big things leaving the particles behind.

Like he did with Isaiah, God desires to sear our hearts with the hot coals of his presence. The problem is we take Him for granted. We take his truth for granted. We take his holiness for granted. We think we’re so much better than we are. Meanwhile, our spiritual carpet collects bags of filth until one day we have an encounter we’ll never forget. God brings us to our knees, rolling over us with His vacuum, sucking out all the junk. He won’t let His children rest comfortably with dirty hearts.

And then it’s done, right? One painful day of brutal honesty and we’re good.

You’d think after 5 hours of cleaning I’d be satisfied with the state of my home, but as I walked through the rooms admiring my labor, I noticed the base-boards. Oh yes, still more work to be done, and by the time I get around to the base-boards, the piano will need dusting, more laundry will need to be cleaned, and I’ll probably be vacuuming again.

Just like our carpets continue to collect dust and dirt, our spiritual lives do the same. He reveals only what we can handle at the moment. The more he purges, the more we notice new areas that need cleansing.

If Jesus walked into your spiritual house today, would you be embarrassed? Well I’ve got news for you. He’s already there, he is present with you at all times whether you “feel” it or not. Does his holiness astound and confound you? Could you claim to be as holy as the prophet Isaiah? Even as righteous as he was, when in the presence of Almighty God, he couldn’t stand his spiritual state.

Today, the lesson from the vacuum cleaner reminds me to stand amazed at the person of Christ and to seek His cleansing frequently, remembering what I am without Him.

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags…Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the Potter; we are all the work of your hands.” Isaiah 64:6&8