By Steven Stuckey

Making Space for God

Elijah at Mt. Carmel

This retreat guide is designed to be used by individuals or groups participating in a one day guided retreat. The Biblical story focuses on the prophet Elijah at a low point in his life. The guide contains prayers, readings, reflection questions, and artwork.

Opening Prayer

O Lord, you have ordered this wonderful world and you know all things in earth and heaven: So fill our hearts with trust in you that by night and day, at all times and in all seasons, we may without fear commit all that we have and hope to be to your never-failing love, for this life and the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From The Book of Worship

Looking Back

Take some time to settle yourself. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you quiet your mind. Review your calendar and journal for the past two months.

  • List the people, projects, and events that have occupied your time.
  • What Make a detailed list of what you are thankful for?
  • When did you sense that Jesus was present to you?
  • When did he seem distant or you seem distant from him?
  • Note any life lessons or themes that have surfaced for you in this time. Offer that up to Jesus.
  • Rest or walk if you need to.

Scripture Study  and Reflective Questions

Read 1 Kings 19:1-18 slowly a couple of times. Reflect on the following questions:

  1. What do you learn about Jezebel in this passage? Who is she like?
  2. What kind of person is Ahab? What is his relationship with Jezebel like? See 1 Kings 21:1-14
  3. Elijah leaves Israel and travels 120 miles to Beersheba in southern Judah. Put yourself in his place and discuss the variety of emotions he might be feeling?
  4. Elijah says, “I have had enough, take my life.” Who else in scripture might have said the same thing? When have you felt that way?
  5. How does the Lord minister to Elijah under the broom tree?
  6. What do you learn about prayer in this passage?
  7. Earth, wind and fire versus still small voice. Compare and contrast.
  8. What role does silence play in your life?

Readings for Reflection

Elijah’s ups and downs in this story not only symbolize his own authority as a prophet, but also suggest the character of the God he serves. Yahweh is high and lifted up, exalted above the heavens, but he also comes down, and in this he shows his superiority to all idols. God is not only higher than all the gods of the nations, he is lower than all the other gods, descending deeper into the darkness than Tartarus or Hades can imagine. He does not simply throw fireballs from the safety of heaven, but he draws near, gets in our face, confronts kings with annoying prophets who interrupt their lives and plans. Yahweh refuses politely to recluse himself from human affairs. For many people, this is unbecoming to a god. Any decent, sophisticated god will remain where he belongs, in blissful heavenly repose, and have the decency not to meddle with our checkbooks, our marriages, our use of natural resources, our treatment of the poor. He will express no opinion on these subjects. But the God of Israel refuses to stay put. The God of Elijah, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Jesus Christ, is the God who comes down in the man of God and in the fire of God, in word and judgment, in flesh, in bread and in wine. Ascension is a demonstration of divine power; but so is, even more, incarnation.

Peter Leithart in Brazos Theological Commentary of 1 & 2 Kings, Page 169

The call of the peregrini, those Celtic saints called to a lifestyle of perpetual wandering, is to do something in this life that has other worldly consequences. A call to serve Christ means that we have accepted a mystical job description: all of our service must be done in this world for the sake of the next.

Calvin Miller in The Path of Celtic Prayer, page 78

Those who yield themselves up to the influence of ambition will soon lose themselves in a labyrinth of complexity.

John Calvin

How is it that we can know so much and do so much and live so badly?               Wendell Berry

We who serve an entirely indoor God have lost a great part of our faith. We must break through the cold hard walls of our institutionalized worship and reach for the soft, warm reality of God that is found in out of doors. It is impossible to imprison God within the walls of church and yet claim that Christianity brings light, growth, and life. We need to open the windows of our soul to admit God’s creative energy… A supersized God makes us aware of our smallness and our humble place in the universe. But in order to see him, we must give up our addiction to electronic media. Once we have seen the God of Yosemite and the Everglades, we will be better able to celebrate his awesome reality and our hearts will overflow with praise. Cognizant of God’s majesty, we will subsequently and spontaneously confess our need.

Calvin Miller in The Path of Celtic Prayer, page 39-40

Benediction

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:5-9