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Stop sitting under the broom tree

God chooses to reveal Himself however He chooses to. In the Garden of Eden, He met Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. He spoke to several people through dreams. To Mary and Joseph, he sent an angel to deliver a message. For Elijah, in a moment of depression and burnout, he goes and sits under a broom tree for an old-fashioned pity party. But God met him there and sent him to a mountain where Elijah learns that God doesn’t always speak in the spectacular and miraculous ways. Sometimes He speaks through the still small voice.

From mountain top experience to the valley of shadow of death

For Elijah, He had just had the mountain top experience of God sending fire to consume a water-soaked sacrifice, proving to all of Israel that God is God and Baal is nothing. Elijah then rounded up all the prophets of Baal and executed them. When Queen Jezebel heard about it, she sent a messenger to Elijah to let him know she planed to have him killed by the next evening.

broom tree

Even though Elijah just experience God answering his prayer through a spectacular and miraculous way, he allows his fear to take over and he forgets the powerful display of God’s might with the sacrifice. The bold prophet who taunted the prophets of Baal now runs and hides. He goes out to the wilderness and sits down under a broom tree and asks God to let him die.

An exhausted and burned out prophet hides under a broom tree

In this moment, Elijah is physically and emotionally exhausted and as a result his faith crumbles. He is in deep depression. He demonstrates apathy, emotional distancing, a cynical attitude and a desire to escape from it all. Elijah also has a false sense of failure. Perhaps he believed that after God’s miraculous display of His power, all the people would turn away from Baal and follow God – but Queen Jezebel was furious over the execution of her prophets and now had a price on Elijah’s head. So Elijah, sees himself as a failure. Elijah is experiencing what we would call “burnout.”

God met Elijah at the broom tree

Even in the midst of Elijah’s depression and burnout – God meets him where he’s at and He miraculously provides for Elijah’s needs. Elijah needs rest, food, and spiritual nourishment.  As Elijah slept under the broom tree, God sends an angel who tells Elijah to get up and eat. When he wakes up he finds a cake baked on coals and a jar of water. He ate and then laid down and went back to sleep. God sends he angel again with the same message. So Elijah gets up and eats and the Bible tells us that he went on the strength of that food for 40 days and 40 nights all the way to the mountain of God.

From the broom tree to the mountain of God

God brings Elijah back to the place where the covenant had been given, the place where his personal faith would also be nourished. Elijah goes into a cave and spent the night there. During the night the “word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9) Elijah replied: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Read that again. Where is the emphases being placed? This verse is all about Elijah – Elijah was very zealous for the Lord. Elijah was all alone. Why? Because the children of Israel forsook God and killed all the other prophets – and now they want to kill Elijah too.

A burned out prophet with tunnel vision

We might say Elijah has the right to be depressed and to run away. He’s scared. He feels alone. He has shifted his focus from God and now has tunnel vision. Instead of seeing God at work, he only sees this predicament he is now in. It almost sounds like he is whining about his predicament and maybe even blaming God that he’s in this predicament to start with.

Don’t we do that too? We go all out for God – giving Him 100% of what we have to give – maybe even more. And then when we hit the point of exhaustion we forget all that God has been doing through us and we acquire tunnel vision so that all we can see the right now – this moment. Then we want to throw in the towel. Quit. Blame God that it didn’t work out.

A prophet at a crossroads

But God is not caught off guard by Queen Jezebel wanting to kill Elijah. And God still has work for Elijah to do. But Elijah is at a crossroad in His faith. So God meets him where he is – let’s see what happens next. 

From hiding under a broom tree to an encounter with God

God tells Elijah to go out and stand on the mountain before Him and there God reveals Himself to Elijah. Whenever we find ourselves under a broom tree, exhausted, depressed and feeling alone, God longs to reveal Himself to us. And this is what He does for Elijah. First, God reveals His greatness and power through wind, earthquake, fire – but in all of these God was not there – just his power. Then, when everything gets quiet, God speaks in a still small voice.

God can speak to us in any way He chooses. And when he speaks, it is in the way we most need it. Exhausted, depressed, and afriad for his life, Elijah didn’t need in that moment a God who spoke in the wind, earthquake, or fire. What he needed was the still, soft, small voice of a Good Shepherd who would lead by still waters to refresh his soul and remind him that he would be with him in the valley of the shadow of death — or on the mountain top.

God still speaks in a still, small voice

He still speaks today in the same still, small voice. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” It can be difficult in today’s fast paced world to just be still – and even if we sit still for five minutes, our minds are still going. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we’ve all been “under the broom tree” with Elijah. There has probably been a time when you have given all you have to serving God and it seems that all your efforts are in vain. You feel drained, broken, and have no idea what to do next. Instead of running to God, you run from whatever God wants you to do and sit under a “broom tree” and have a pity party. God still had work for Elijah to do and he has work for you to do. So stop sitting under your “broom tree” and seek out the God who will refresh you soul.

We constantly want to see God move in big, powerful ways – after all He is a big, powerful God. But more often than not, God reveals Himself when we simply be still. It’s then we can hear His voice.

God’s still, small voice message: “You are not alone”

The still small voice of God reveals to Elijah that he was not the last prophet alive, as Elijah assumed. God told him there were still 7000 people alive that had not bowed down to Baal that He could choose to work through. And if you are sitting under a broom tree today – God wants you to know that you are not alone. It’s time for you to get up and eat – get re-nourished spiritually. Maybe you need to return to the place where God first called you. Maybe you need to take a weekend away and get alone with God and just be still. Whatever you need to do to breathe life back into the ministry God has called you to do – God will meet you there. What will He reveal to you? It’s time to find out – arise and eat! Be still in His presence. Listen for His still small voice. 

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