Tunnel vision. Disappointment. Discouragement. If affects nearly everyone of us from time to time if we are really honest. It even happened to the prophet Elijah. Do you remember the story in I Kings 18-19? Let me give you my rendition.
Elijah is really concerned that God’s people are worshipping the idol Baal instead of the true God. He is passionate for them to return to worshipping God. He confronts the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and God shows himself strong and proves that Baal is a powerless and false God. Elijah expects that now all the people will return to worshipping God, but contrary to his expectations, they don’t. And to make matters worse, Queen Jezebel, wife of the evil King Ahab, threatens to kill Elijah. And her threats are more like promises. Elijah flees for his life and falls down and tells God he really wants to die.
God is patient with this tired prophet. First, he gives him a couple of rounds of heavenly food and drink and lets him sleep for awhile. Then he asks, “What are you doing here?” Here in this place of fear and discouragement. Elijah replies, “I have worked really hard for you. All the rest of your people have abandoned you and they all worship Baal. The rulers are evil and nothing changes. I am the only one left and now they want to kill me.” In other words, Elijah was having quite the pity party.
And God responds to this disillusioned man by saying, “Quit running away. Go back. I am going to get rid of those evil rulers. And I have someone in mind to help you. Elisha is his name and eventually he will take your place. And by the way, there are 7000 people who worship me and not Baal.” In other words, it’s not as bad as you think, Elijah. Trust me. I haven’t been asleep at the wheel.
It is so easy for me to get tunnel vision and be discouraged in ministry. As Beth Moore says in her Bible study on James: “We talk as those who believe God is omnipotent and omnipresent, but we often act as if He can only work through one person, one method, or one kind of ministry at a time…..There is a big needy world out there and God’s way of reaching it is to enlist every one of us to do our part in love and humility, variety and diversity.”
I have seen so many examples of this kind of love and humility as I have visited different disability ministries in the area. There is the small church that has carefully planned a room and a curriculum to teach two girls with autism about Jesus. Then there is the church where volunteers have organized a FREE day program for 12 adults with developmental disabilities. And they have done it without funding. Everyone just pitches in. Another church’s special needs ministry is the fastest growing ministry in the church.
God is at work. Everywhere. All the time. Remember the 7000.