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"When Our Brook Dries Up:
Living Obediently in Hard Times"

by Barbara Smith

Elijah appeared with Moses at the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the old testament prophet who dramatically confronted the prophets of Baal and rode a fiery chariot into heaven. His life is a practical and encouraging model, especially for homeschooling parents.

How does Elijah tie in to raising children and teaching them at home? In deprivation and destitution, in exhaustion and exhilaration, Elijah's life is a witness to repeated demonstrations of God's protection and power; and His persistence and provision. By God's grace Elijah learned that God also richly provides by withholding.

If that sounds like a confusing contradiction, bear with me. Elijah kept going in times of drought and danger -- when his resources, physical and spiritual dwindled, he kept going. When we are out of time, money and charm, Elijah's experiences are worth studying.

Elijah Was a Man . . . Elijah's physical resources dried up at the beginning of his ministry - right after he obeyed God.

He did what God told him to do and then he had to live right along with people who endured the drought. Elijah, whose name means "Yahweh is God," began his service dramatically. Appearing suddenly in front of Ahab, king of Israel and his wife Jezebel, he delivered an amazing message: No rain, or even dew, for years, unless I say so. (I Kings 17:1) Then the word of God hid him from the royal repercussions. Jezebel destroyed the prophets of God as an art form! (I Kings 18:4)

God gave him specific instructions and directions to a particular brook: the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. (I King 17:2-3) And the Lord told him how things were going to be. "And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there."


Yet Elijah did not complain about the way God said He would provide; Elijah obeyed. He lived by drinking from the brook and eating what the ravens brought. (I Kings 17: 5-6) Then, surprise! The brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land, just like Elijah said! (I Kings 17:7)

The Connection to Us . . . Elijah was not immune from the impact of his prophecy. If there is no rain, streams do dry up.

But, why did God take water away from His faithful, brave servant, who ate from ravens' mouths? That life-sustaining stream may have kept Elijah from moving on in his ministry. If we are serious about moving on in our ministry within our homes, the Lord may remove the one thing that you and I think we cannot live without. He may take an essential relationship, income, or even our health so that we will depend on Him as our service expands. Are you willing?

Christians aren't saved from the circumstances of this fallen world, are we? Divorce, disease, disappointments - you name it, Christians suffer, too. Pulling our kids out of school does not keep them from experimenting with the sins that plague other kids. This is a fallen world, even around the dining room table.

When your stream dries up, listen. Read His word, and He will direct your path. He has made provision for those who obey Him.

Elijah's thirst did not keep him from obedience: it propelled him to find the Lord's specific provision. How do your diminishing resources propel you to keep going for God's glory?

Elijah's Next Step . . . Again, God gave Elijah clear direction. The Lord told Elijah to get up and go - don't sit around moaning about what is evaporating: "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." (17:8-9) Elijah did not argue, nor did he remind God what a faithful servant he had been, he went.

Moreover, God's direction put Elijah in Jezebel's hometown, a town outside Israel's borders, and in a Gentile home.

Ravens and now and now this - Gentiles!

As Elijah learned about God's faithfulness through the ravens and the brook, he developed a unique understanding of God, in a generation of divided loyalties. (1 Kings 16:21) Did Elijah need to learn "thirst" to minister to the widow, a God-fearing woman who lived in a Godforsaken city? Now he could teach the widow what God would do with a little flour and oil.

Suppose Elijah refused to go. It was a long trip across dangerous territory into the enemy's hometown.

He could have said: "Why do I have to be an object lesson, Lord? Look, I risked my neck and told Ahab the truth, and I have already suffered for obeying YOU! I am sick of eating from ravens' mouths, and now I am thirsty for some clean water. Is that so much to ask for God?"

If Elijah had refused to move out on faith that God would feed him, the widow's son would have died of starvation and dehydration - and souls would not have been won for the Living God. (1 Kings 17:24)

The Connection to Us . . . Is there a lesson in Elijah's travel plan? Yes.

#1 Complaining about our circumstances clouds our vision. Until we listen, and obey, we may miss the provisions God has planned for us and wind up dehydrated and useless for Kingdom work.

#2 Ignoring unlovely, unsaved, troublesome relatives may be at cross-purposes with God's plans for your family.

Do not shun disobedient, rebellious children! Our kids may be involved in attitudes and actions that disgust us - maybe the same way Gentiles disgusted the Jews. Elijah went to a gentile woman and blessed her and her family. We must look beyond habits, manners and practices and keep to the task of teaching, exhorting, training and disciplining. If you are choking on the habits and practices of your children, ask God to be as merciful to your children as He is to you. Until you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, you too, were an object of His wrath.

#3 Refusing to obey God has a price tag that sometimes others will also pay. Our refusal to discipline our time, our tongue, our appetites and our attitudes has downstream consequences. So too, refusing to rein in rebels will not produce a harvest of righteousness. BUT - We must discipline ourselves and our children, for the right reasons in the right way with the right attitude. (For God's glory, in HIS strength, and with the mind of Jesus Christ.)

God continually showed himself to Elijah who continually responded. God took away things - rain, dew and clean water - to show the need to rely on Him. Elijah accepted the lesson that the Lord works through withholding and providing. If he knew about Job and David, Elijah would have known that God imposes righteous afflictions to bring forth faith and good character.

Are you suffering for the Kingdom, or are you suffering because of willful foolishness? God will turn it around. He met Elijah and restored him.

Obedience and the Tasks God Gives . . . God showed Elijah that He answers prayers and Elijah went to do what God commanded. God showed his power to Elijah so that the prophet could obey God and reveal God's purposes: to save individuals, one by one, and to confound the false prophets who were confounding His people.

When he returned to Ahab, Elijah assigned the origin of the trouble in Israel precisely.

(I Kings 18:18) The trouble was Ahab and his family, who had forsaken the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Forsaking the commandments of God and worshiping our own idols are as much a source of trouble in our homes as they were in the Northern Kingdom.

Elijah was equally explicit in speaking to the people in Israel. He came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people did not answer him a word. (I King 18:21)

Are you plain-spoken when you describe choices you and your family make? Just because your child may refuse to answer, don't despair of asking God-honoring questions.

Elijah was also compelling when he talked to God. "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that Thou, O LORD, art God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again. " (I King 18:36-37)

The Connection to Us . . . Is this how you prayed this morning? I confess that I shoot up many puny, dispassionate prayers to God. If "puny" captures the essence of your prayer life, learn from Elijah.

The Lord Jesus' brother James said, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit." (James 5:17-18 ) Do you want fruit? Pray like Elijah.

Even Elijah Got Tired . . . Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. After the mighty confrontation, the horrific execution of the false prophets, and the foot race against Ahab's chariot, Elijah panicked and ran for his life. (I Kings 18:38-19:3) The mightiest of God's servants can forget God and what He does for them.

The Connection to Us . . . You and I are in very good company when anxiety or depression overtakes us. Before we pop a pill or go to a counselor, look at how God took care of Elijah's spiritual and physical depletion.

First, God graciously ignored Elijah's prayers, and caused Elijah to sleep, woke him up and sent an angel to guard and feed him. (I Kings 19: 4-6) And God did it again, so that it nourished Elijah for forty days and forty nights so he could reach Mount Horeb. (I Kings 19: 8)

Let me repeat that provision: Sleep and eat, sleep and eat; rest - for God has His eye on you. He knows what is worrying you as well as He knew what troubled Elijah.

Flo Wolfe, a godly counselor for women tells women who are battling depression, "you MUST eat and sleep consistently. One very simple reason that women get crazy is, " Flo observes, "that we ignore our bodies' demands for rest, exercise, good food and water and then wonder why we're crashing!"

We can do more for the Lord and our families when we take care of the equipment God gave us.

Most importantly, if you are crashing, go to the word! Elijah went to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God, where God had spoken to Moses. Don't skip over the Pentateuch when your resources are dissipating.

God Knows His Servants' Names . . . In 1 Kings 19, the word of the Lord came to Elijah and twice asked him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (I Kings 19: 9, 13) God knew his name, and God wanted Elijah to reflect on why he was doing what he was doing. Elijah's self-centeredness is blatant. Yes, Jezebel would kill him if she could find him, but God had rescued him. God wanted Elijah to look to Him, and not his situation.

God told Elijah and He tells us that there is work to be done - get moving. (I Kings 19: 15) "What's more, you are not alone! Leave the pity party, Elijah. I have 7,000 servants who have not bowed down to Baal." (I Kings 19: 18)

Also God gave Elijah a friend and disciple - Elisha. Before long, Elijah was back at work - telling Ahab the truth. And when he heard the whole truth, the wicked king repented. (I Kings 21:17)

God Knows Your Name, Too!

We get bent out of shape very quickly when we behold our children's sins and fear overtakes us. Remember, though, God knows your name and the names of the children He gave us. Are you encountering hard hearts or trying to educate learning "disabled" children? God has got a plan for your children; He knows their strengths - and their weaknesses. [Check out what God told Moses. "And the LORD said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes {him} dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.'" (Exodus 4:11-12)]

  • Things may be very difficult for you, too but God has work for you. And you are not alone. God is with you - and not only are fellow Christians praying for you, but Christ Himself is on His knees praying for you. (Hebrews 12:1, 13:5, 7:25)
  • Why do you go to God? Do you only wish to complain about how badly it hurts? God already knows. He allowed it. He wants us, with eyes of faith, to look beyond the pain to see Him at work even in the very lives of those who are grieving us.
  • Look for the God-given gift of Christian fellowship. If none appears readily, will you be content with Christ? He is sufficient. That will be one of the most eloquent lessons you can teach your child about friends!
  • Practice obedience. When we obey God by telling the truth, He is working repentance in the hearts of the most unlikely converts.
Concluding Comforts from Dry Brooks . . . God did not save His servant Elijah from the hard times. He worked through the hard times in the prophet's life.

Elijah was a man of God who relied upon God's word. Did he know the Psalms? Did he know the story of Job? Maybe. Whatever his favorite verses were, Elijah did know the God who inspired the passages. As a result, his words had power and Elijah accomplished God's purposes. God spoke to him, and Elijah obeyed even when God's commands made no apparent sense. It is the same God who has saved you. Use His word, believe His promises, do His will, especially when your brook dries up.

Taken from:
Growing Up Homeschooling,
(or learning what we wanted the kids to take to heart)

Due Summer, 1998
Pre-publication order from:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012
$8.95 plus 3.00 postage (Maryland residents add 5% MD sales tax)

© Barbara W. Smith 1998, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

Please send a copy of the publication to:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012

We hope our thoughts encourage you in the Lord Jesus Christ who has enabled us to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined -- please let us know what YOU think. E-mail us at workbook@toad.net. (Please don't forget to include your e-mail address with in the body of the message--we've had some of our responses returned due to insufficient e-mail addresses.)


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