Two Places at the Same Time!

Zarephath represents, for me, both a physical place and a spiritual state of being.

Yesterday, I wrote about the significance of Zarephath’s location on the map.  To think we can physically be in two places at the same time amounts to absurdity. Spiritually, however, it is quite possible to be in two places at once.  The place where Elijah was kept alive can symbolize a spiritual state of being in which we may be responsive to God’s prompting to service–even when we find ourselves in less than ideal circumstances. This state of being may even become a miraculous thing as we live “in Christ”. Unlike those who don’t have Christ, we can actually walk around on the earth, being in two places at the same time!

Before ever sending the prophet to the widow in Zarephath, God had directed him where to go and what to do in a way that put Elijah in a position of total dependence on God.  

Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”   Then the Lord said to Elijah, “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters theJordan River.  Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”   So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of theJordan.  The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook.  But after a while the brook dried up, for there was no rainfall anywhere in the land. [1 Kings 17:1-7 New Living Translation]

From this short passage of scripture we can list the following keys to entering a state of total dependence upon God:

  • We need to position ourselves to hear God’s instructions.
  • We need to believe God, even when what we hear sounds scary.
  • We need to obey and do what the Lord tells us.
  • We must accept what God provides, even if it’s not what we want.
  • We should stay where He puts us until He tells us to move somewhere else.

There are a lot of books and articles about hearing from God, but God doesn’t speak to each person in the same way. I can’t tell you what you need to do to position yourself to hear from God.  You may already hear from Him better than I do. But one place to start, especially for new believers, is to simply say, “Father, I need your guidance and I want to hear from you. Please speak clearly to me through the Holy Spirit and direct my path so I can become more like your Son Jesus. Help me obey, and help me mean what I’m praying right now.” I believe our Father takes delight in such petitions. He is patient when we are hard of hearing. He will give us as many chances as it takes to get it right, as long as we come back and admit it when we fail to hear because we haven’t been paying attention. He forgives us when we take a shortcut because we think we have a “better idea”. As soon as we realize we’ve gotten lost and call upon His name, He’ll bring us to a new starting point and make sure we have a full tank of gas.

Believing God calls for a willingness to give up control. We like to be in control. We crave “the path of least resistance”. Sometimes we shut out God’s instruction because of fear, selfishness or willful disobedience. Doing what God says to do can be scary, especially when it calls for crucifying the things of “self”. But to enter a state of total dependence on God, we have to stop depending on ourselves. When we can do that, we can obey and do what He says.

When we are obedient and set about doing what God sends us to do, He will provide everything we need.  Not what we think we need. What we really need.  If Elijah had looked at the food the ravens brought and said, “No thanks, I need a sirloin steak and that’s…that’s…ewww, what is that, anyway?” he would have starved to death. By accepting what God provides, even if it means living beneath our standards, in order to meet His standard (submission and obedience), we will find ourselves in the enviable position of total dependence on Him. And we are to remain there until He sends us elsewhere.  This pattern of hearing, believing, obeying, accepting, and waiting continues when Elijah comes to Zarephath.  “After many days” [1 Kings 18:1] God sent Elijah somewhere else, but the evidence thereafter indicates Elijah remained in total dependence on God.

God wants us to remain in this state of being as long as we live. We are to remain when we go to work and when we come home. When we play or socialize. When we grieve or rejoice. When we need to forgive or ask for forgiveness. No matter where else He sends us or what He instructs us to do, we are to remain in total dependence on Him. Two places at the same time.

This is what Jesus meant when He said “Abide in me” (John 15:4 NKJV).  This is the mercy and grace of our Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4). This is our freedom from worry (Matthew 6:25-34).

Zarephath (my symbol of total dependence) may well be the only place I’ve found where I can remain and be somewhere else at the same time!

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