In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The value of the Hidden Life

This morning I read from Kings 17:1-7.

So off and on today I’ve been thinking about the time Elijah spent at Cherith.

I don’t know about you, but I think that I might get frustrated by the whole Cherith experience. It was a time in history when Israel was filled with wickedness; there had been one bad king after another. Then Elijah comes along, a guy who doesn’t appear to have much of a pedigree (but whose name means “my God is Yahweh”) and he tells the evil king (who has an even more evil wife) that there is one God who is supreme, the God of Israel, and that this God will cause there to be no rain if Elijah but says the word. Then God directs Elijah to go to Cherith. At Cherith God provides food for Elijah’s needs via ravens bringing it to him, and water for him because there’s a stream there. The supernatural provision part is way cool, but I think I’d get bored after awhile. A more spiritual person might say that it was just him and God and how awesome that was; but I think I’d get bored.

Charles Swindoll, in his book about Elijah, brings out the point that Cherith was a time of being hidden. In his book he talks about how “we must be as willing to be hidden as to be out front”. Swindoll also quotes EB Meyer who said “the value of the hidden life…Every saintly soul that would wield great power with people must win it in some hidden Cherith. We cannot give out unless we have previously taken in.”

Elijah’s time at Cherith really speaks to me because of what I’ve been going through over the past several months. I’ve already talked enough here about my job loss and subsequent trials, that even I’m sick of hearing about it! Not only are there my own experiences, but I’ve had several dear ones, friends and acquaintances, who have been experiencing being “hidden” lately. People who have prepared, participated, worked, and now are having experiences that seem to put them on hold. Some of the experiences I’ve observed are: A few people I care about share how they have been diligent to prepare for ministry and then it seems that no ministry doors are opening for them. A friend who has been a wonderful children’s pastor at a church for more than 10 years was just fired. A young man whose heart has been set on being an Army Ranger and who’d worked hard for years to get to that point, recently failed the program. Maybe I’ve seen so much of this lately because the truth of life is that a time for seeming to be put on hold comes to us all.

When I’m in a Cherith time in my life, it’s easy to feel useless. But the Holy Spirit encouraged me that God uses these experiences, and this time away, to shape me for the next step in His plan.

What about you, have you experienced being “hidden” lately? How’s God used this time in your life?


Michelle said...

I feel hidden sometimes. But for this season of life I believe I'm supposed to be hidden. I believe my "ministry" is currently my service to my family...and what mom has never felt hidden?!

Every diaper changed, laundry load swapped, boo boo kissed, misbehavior guided...may it all be done to the glory of God!

I also believe sometimes being hidden is God's way of keeping us humble.

I pray you get some rest and contentment in hiding until you are out there again! Fuel up on His Word!

David-FireAndGrace said...

Of course, but for me it started to rain after 3-and-half years.
I to have had trials, but I am waiting for on a job offer tomorrow. But I am bit like Elijah, I don't mind being hidden, and as long as I am in contact with God, it goes pretty good. I guess that I needed to come to a point where I didn't have anything of myself left to offer, and that is where it began to happen. I wan't talented enough, gifted enough, smart enough, or left with any good ideas.

Really, no one was reading my blog, but I posted regularly for years. They didn't want me at church, and I got asked to leave another one.

I guess I have finally come to the place where church is not what I participate in, but what I allow God to do with me. It actually very cool.

Hang in there my friend.

John Cowart said...

Hi Tracy,

I've been hidden for 70 years--that means I've been hidden so long I qualify as a buried treasure.

When I write I often feel as though I'm typing on air.

But then I'm beginning to realize how often my own soul has been fed by the writings of people long dead. Recently I've been reading some letters written in the year 1453.

Maybe, if the world hangs around for another 500 years, some kid prowling an attic will find one of my books or diaries, and think how a Christian life worked out for a guy in the distant past--me.

On one level I think that, on a more realistic level, I think that is sour grapes--that my life and work will mean no more in the distant future than it does to my contemporaries.

Of course, there's not a thing wrong with being a certain guy buried in Arlington National Cemetery where honor guards stand sentry at his tomb--which carries the inscription, Known But To God.

Nothing else counts.


Tracy said...

Michelle -Think you're so right about mom's being hidden. I adore your purposeful attitude in mothering.

David - As I read your response I'm reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 5:3, I'm especially partial to the way they read in The Message paraphrase: "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.". Thanks for always being such a source of encouragement.

John - I'm totally convinced that you're a treasure; only I'm not so sure about the buried part! I am frequently encouraged, convicted, and touched by the words you write.

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