There were so many times in our long adoption journey that I felt like the prophet Elijah in I Kings 18 as he prayed for rain after years of drought.
Praying, looking for deliverance. Praying, looking for deliverance…. Over and over again.
I have a friend who is in that situation now. She has been awaiting the completion of the adoption of her three precious children for even longer than we did. It has been a long, ardouous labor of love. Only love would enable her to keep on hoping and working. Only love would cause her to pray and look for deliverance over and over again.
I am sure that if she read the story in 1 Kings 18 today about Eljah praying for rain, she could certainly relate.
For years, not one drop of rain had fallen on Israel. Each day, another stream trickled to a stop and another crop whithered into nothingness. The ground hardened, cracked and eventually turned to dust but the time had come for it all to end and Elijah went to Ahab, a faithless, evil king and said, “Go up, eat and drink: for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” (I Kings 18:41)
Ahab must have taken one look at the stark, barren sky and thought, “There that crazy prophet goes again…”
Elijah left him and took a walk and then a climb, up Mnt. Carmel.
I can see him there….
Elijah reaches the top and stops. The blistering sun beats down on his face as his eyes squint against its glare to stare at an expanse of couldless, blue sky. He reaches up to wipe away a bead of sweat that trickles into his eye. A dry cough catches in his throat, irritated by the dust that fills the still, dry air with his every movement. He surveys the barren landscape. Everything is baked to a crisp, dead and desecated by the relentless sun.
Elijah takes one last look at the horizon and then drops to the ground and bends forward until his face rests between his knees.
“Oh, God…let it rain. Let it rain. Let it rain….”
He stops praying and turns to the young man accompanying him. He tells him to look towards the sea for any sign of answered prayer but when the servant returns, his eyes are downcast.
“There is nothing,” he reports.
Elijah bows again, his face inches from the dusty earth and he implores the Creator, “Let it rain…”
Again, he rises and says to the young man, “Go again,” and again the servant returns with the same report. “There is nothing…”
Seven times the scenario is repeated, but the seventh time is just a little different. When the weary servant gazes out to the sea the seventh time, he is startled by the smallest change in the otherwise empty sky. He rushes back to Elijah with his report.
“There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand rising out of the sea!”
Elijah tells his servant, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.”
Just a tiny cloud, a small thing, but God often uses the small and the insignifigant.
The tiny cloud grows, and soon the sky darkens. Ahab jumps into his chariot as the black clouds swirl overhead in an attempt to outrace the heavy drops of rain that begin to pound the parched earth.
And Elijah….well, the Spirit of God falls the prophet and he does the most astonishing thing. He picks up the hem of his robe and runs. Scripture tells us that he ran ahead of the chariot all the way back to Jezreel. What a sight that must have been.
A prophet, robes girded up, running like the wind. Behind him is the king in his chariot, lashing the horses, pushing them to their limit; all of them driven along by the rain and wind, a torrential downpour…
that found its origins in a cloud the size of a man’s hand.
Small things. God often reveals himself in them, if only we are still enough to see Him and quiet enough to listen.
“Who has despised the day of small things?”