1 Kings 17:2-5 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.
God's plan is always full of surprise and mystery. Here is the beginning of Elijah's boot camp experience.
Here are some lessons I've learned over the last year from my personal Cherith. Some of these life lessons I've known for a long time and have been able to use in this time, others have been things I've known but only now truly value.
Accountability is King
Accountability is like a two-sided coin. Many of us only "cash in" on the one side of it. It's the "when you ask me, I'll tell" side. This is helpful and useful, but the other side of the "coin" is the "I'll tell you before you even ask." Offering necessary information before it's required is the side of accountability that brings healing and protection.
It's Hard to Finish Strong
We have so few examples of this in the Bible and it seems even fewer in today's culture. It's hard to finish strong, period. Surrounding yourself with people who will speak the truth in love is key to helping. Beware of keeping nothing but "yes men" around you. Oscar Wilde said it best, "true friends stab you in the chest."
There are Friends and then there are Real Friends
I didn't ever really get this. To me a friend was someone who met the biblical definition found in Proverbs 18:24. Some translations say "real" friend and others just say "a friend that sticks closer than a brother." Regardless, it's important to know who in your life can be that. I've learned that to expect real friendships from people who are incapable of delivering that type of relationship only leads to heartache. But understanding that some people simply can only live at a lower level of friendship allows there to be less offense. Knowing this helps keep proper perspective. It's not that people who can't deliver "real" friendship are bad or evil, they are just living at the level they understand friendship to be.
Extreme Situations Bring Out What Has Always Been in the Heart
The Bible tells us to "guard our heart" but we have been taught since we were young about behavior modification. There's a huge difference. I counseled a young lady that was upset and confessing how she couldn't understand why she "flipped off" a driver for cutting her off. She loves Jesus. She's a worshipper. She tithes. She prays regularly. So why the sudden outbreak of the one finger wave?
When I was young, my mom heard me say some things I shouldn't have said. Her response, "Vincent! I'm gonna wash your mouth out with soap!" I learned that day--some words can only be said in the locker room and not around mom--Behavior Modification.
People can say they love, offer forgiveness, believe in restoration, serve others. But you truly don't know until things don't go the way they should. When a crisis happens, that's the time to see what's truly in people's hearts. Pay attention! Because this shows what's truly in your heart.
No, really. He does. The ravens have brought us bread everyday. Jesus said, "when you pray--pray, give us this day our daily bread." I was always so proud of my management abilities. No credit card debt, two paid-off vehicles, no debt whatsoever except for a house payment. Yet in the eight months of being without a job I have been so disgusted with knowing what my former salary was and realizing how much I was truly wasting.
I've always known that people who complain about not making enough and are always behind was never an issue of "not making enough". It's about "not managing properly." When your output is more than your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.
As we all forge through this recession, know this: you can live on a lot less and God always provides.
The High and Mighty Assassin is Very Sneaky
Pride. I didn't even know I was full of the stuff. It's amazing how fine the line is between being confident in what God has gifted you in and being confident in your gifts. Having a real friend who will stab you in the chest is very helpful against this "assassin of character."
Hurt people, hurt people. It's easy to focus on the hurt that people inflict without seeing what caused the person to hurt. This is best illustrated in "The Tale of Despereaux" ---Then something strange happens: The sun disappears from Dor. Clouds cover the land, but the rain refuses to fall. Gloom descends. By way of explanation, the narrator states that the rats' presence was a very natural thing, and that when something as unnatural as their banishment occurs, everyone hurts. The king hurts Roscuro. The rat hurts the princess after she hurts him. The princess hurts Mig by inadvertently belittling her. And Mig hurts the princess in retaliation.
When dealing with those who are hurting others or even yourself the realization of needing to extend grace in the face of misunderstanding will help the healing process.
Fear is a very strong emotion, but forgiveness is stronger.