When I read these words this week, I felt as though I had opened my Bible, closed my eyes, and placed my finger on a random spot on the page. I thought about spots I have landed in life that seem random. Yet, I soon realized the purpose in each placement.
As a prophet, Elijah may have discerned God’s plan for this particular journey. I still wonder if Elijah asked all the questions I have at times.
“You want me to go where?”
Did these directions baffle Elijah? I know this feeling. The name Kerith Ravine suggests exile. The primary Hebrew root karath that means “to cut off” or “cut down,” and the word nachal (ravine or brook) refers to a torrent-valley. As an introvert, I appreciate alone time. But, loneliness?
“When should I go?”
God expects immediate obedience once He gives instructions. At times, I have been compelled to drop my current goals and roles and head off to a place yet-unknown to me. Minus the personal inconvenience factor, our families and friends may not understand the change. They may also ask questions or simply question our impulse control, our common sense, our emotional well-being, our stable mindset. Maybe that is the reason for the urgency. Getting out fast means less answering to others. That does not mean our own questions cease.
“What is going to happen?”
Elijah receives a rare insight. God does not always reveal at the outset what will happen in life’s ravines. That does not mean the initial information makes sense. The strangest part had to be the raven–an unclean scavenger mocking-jay able to pluck out a human eyeball with its beak–providing the food.
The biggest question seems to be why. Why black, bad-omen ravens? Why the soon-to-dry-up Cherith Brook and not the ever-flowing Jordan River? Why hide? Elijah had only predicted a drought. It had not even happened yet. He was just doing his job as a prophet.
One of the greatest provisions of God is preparation. What if in sending Elijah to the Kerith Ravine, he was preparing him for the time he would flee from Jezebel? A unique dependence on God occurs while dwelling in life’s darkest moments. No other word or helping hand gives the exact need because no one understands except the One who gives the instructions for each specific journey. Some similarities exist, but every person travels a specific God-designed path. God gave Elijah insight into what would happen in the ravine, but He did not tell Elijah everything that would be asked of him as a prophet. Elijah may not have realized it, but God was giving him a secret knowledge for the days to come. After reaching a pinnacle, descent into the valley is the inevitable trajectory.
The Why is always Because God. The more important questions are How and Who. How will I react to what the ravens bring me? Will I repeat the midnight chant of Poe’s bleak Raven or will I sing with the dawn? Who needs to hear the stories of my ravines that remind me I am cherished and cared for evermore?