18th February 2012

Where Is God?

“He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah…and struck the water with it. ‘Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”
2 Kings 2:13-14 (NIV) 

This sort of wording comes up more than once in the Bible. It seems an odd sort of way to call on God to help you in what you want to do or where you have decided to go. Where are you God?  In Jeremiah 2:6 and 8, people and priests are condemned for following their own ways and for not asking, “Where is the Lord?” Israel, in times of trouble, recalls “the days of old” (Isaiah 63:11); they ask, “Where is he who…led them through the depths?”—and God promises restoration to the repentant.  Elisha, bereft of his prophetic mentor, picks up his cloak and asks, “Where is the God of Elijah?” 

For the purpose of this study I am leaving out the similar phrase used (in places like Joel 2:17) as a rhetorical question, a taunt, the complete opposite of seeking God. In the examples above, the question is asked genuinely as an expression of submission to God’s will and desire for his involvement at a decisive juncture in people’s lives. 

What do we say when we need God’s direction at some junction point in our path? It’s hard to remember, afterwards, what you asked. When I wrote my prayers, I ended up with interminable pages of me telling God where I was, interspersed with the sort of “how”, “when” and “why” questions that nobody ever got satisfaction on yet. Maybe there are one or two points at which the questions are oriented to God instead of to oneself: What is God doing in all this? Where does God stand in regard to my particular situation? Where is he leading me? 

Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah? He held, presumably, a meteorite in supersonic trajectory towards its exact appointment with an altar on Mount Carmel. Where does he want you to be, and what events has he appointed? 

I so nearly wrote that as, “What does God want us to do?”, but that wording seems to lead to anxiety and guilt. When in doubt, borrow someone else’s prayer. Elisha’s prayer worked. 

You are the God of Elijah, the God who provided for your followers in crisis; who sent fire from heaven to a nation gone astray; and who spoke in stillness after storm, earthquake and fire. Be my God. In the name of Jesus, with whom Elijah stood transfigured.

Study by Fiona Jones

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