Earlier in this chapter after Elijah slew the prophets of Baal and called fire from heaven, Ahab told Jezebel what had been done. She sent a threatening message to Elijah which included a death threat, that she would end his life the next day. Elijah’s response is surprising given that he had just killed four hundred prophets of Baal. This was after he prayed and God sent fire from heaven. “Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there” (1 Kings 19:3). Most people assume that Elijah was exhausted after the amazing demonstration on Mount Carmel. Either way, Jezebel’s threats sent Elijah running in the opposite direction of his mission.
I am amused by God’s question to Elijah. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Of course God knew that he was scared and running away to hide. I believe the question was a rhetorical one and said to put Elijah in a place of self reflection. Before God spoke to Elijah, he allowed him to sleep and twice an angel brought him food. I am not sure what exactly made Elijah so tired and exhausted. May be it was Mount Carmel, out running Abah’s chariot before the rain or running all the way to the desert to get away from Jezebel. Either way, Elijah was tired and feeling a little bit sorry for himself. “It is enough; now oh Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). God listened to everything that Elijah had to say then sent him back to complete his assignment.
The other prophet who tried to outrun God was Jonah when he was sent to Nineveh. In Jonah’s case, he was being what we could call ‘straight up disobedient.’ God sent him to warn Nineveh, but he boarded a ship to Tarshish. Jonah must have forgotten that God made the sea, the earth and everything else in it. To summarise, a mighty storm came up against the boat, Jonah was thrown overboard, swallowed by a whale and vomited out on dry land. Listen to what God said to Jonah immediately after he was spat out. ““Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you”” (Jonah 3:2). There was no time for reassurance, debates or arguments. Just a repeated instruction to do what he was told in the first place.
Reading these stories in the bible let’s me know that there is no point trying to run away from God. I do not want to be swallowed by a whale or something far worst. I want to try my best to do what I was told to do in the first one place. The will of God is not always the easiest thing to do. What I do know is that being in the will of God is the safest place to be. Sometimes we need a break to rest and recover after a hard mission. We may need to cry, take a nap or eat one of our favourite meals. What we cannot do is run away from God, because there is nowhere to hide from him. Stay in his will. Stay in his presence and experience the peace which comes from staying in his perfect will.