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  • A Musing Pastor

"What are you doing here Randy?"

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10. He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 11. The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9b-13)


I went for a run this morning. Nothing earth shattering in this statement. As I ran, I listened to the words of a song by Bob Seger and Silver Bullet Band, "Runnin' Against the Wind" (circa 1980). The song has so many dynamics in it with which I totally resonate.

Seems to happen every time I run that a headwind follows me everywhere I go. It doesn't actually do that but I can make that claim and stand by it in my head. I convince myself that every possible antagonist in the universe has settled on me as the target. Another untruth. Why just two weeks ago I was chased by a dog and it sunk its teeth into my running shorts and hung on as I tried to extricate myself. The owners failed to gain their dog's attention with their gentle calling. Thankfully the only damage was bite marks in the fabric. In my head, all dogs are out to get me. They aren't. (“What are you doing here, Randy?”)

My brain continues to lay a strong case before God that it is time to fold the tent and retreat. Lord, I have been faithful to you but it seems like every time I run, there is a headwind. Lord, dogs chase me and attack me. Woe is me!!!!!!! To hear my inner voice some days, one would wonder about my call to pastoral leadership. One might even question my faith and relationship to God. I question stuff going on around me. I judge the actions and motivations of others in sometimes harsh ways. I become jaded to new societal norms that are not norms I would embrace. Every time, without exception, God's voice whispers to me much like God's voice whispered to Elijah. “What are you doing here, Elijah (Randy)?”

Many days, I could sing Seger's song and believe without wavering that all hope is lost and I am literally rowing up the Niagara Falls in a dinghy. The good news for me is that I do not reside in this self loathing cell of my own making but share this space with some notable servants of the Lord. Maybe you see yourself sitting beside me. Welcome friend!

Elijah had been working tirelessly for God, doling out prophetic warnings to those opposed to God. Threats of all kinds had stalked Elijah as he began to question his loyalty and devotion to the task. In some ways, Elijah was questioning God. Whoa!

Even close associates of Elijah questioned him. It would be so easy to look toward heaven, throw up one's hands, and say, "I quit. It is too much to handle. I am all alone here Lord." “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Lately, the last 5 months, there have been many times I looked toward heaven and lamented much like Elijah. Most have never seen this action. It is stuffed away and shielded by a smile and energy that can only be supplied by God. The easy way out is to believe that God couldn't still surely be in my corner. More flawed thinking on my part. God is.

COVID19 swept into our world like a swarm of devouring locusts (Read the Old Testament book of Joel) and the fallout of it will be felt for years to follow. In this topsy-turvy time I am maintaining my Elijah-like approach to the unknowns and daily have my doubts. "God, what should I do today?" "God, are you with us in this time of unrest?" "God, how can any good come out of this?" "God, it seems like I am the only one still hanging on." Yet, I continue to hear the still small voice of God whisper, "“What are you doing here, Elijah (Randy)?”

Things I have learned during covid19 pandemic times:

I need to be flexible.

I need to trust the Lord.

I don't know much.

I need to trust the Lord.

I need to make decisions based upon little evidence.

I need to trust the Lord.

I make wrong decisions.

I need to trust the Lord.

I don't have all the answers.

I need to trust the Lord.

While I am breathing, I can make a difference.

God is still speaking.

God has not been taken by surprise from covid19.


Today, take stock of your situation. If you are feeling hopeless, listen for God's still small voice that says, "What are you doing here (insert your name)?" Allow God's divine nature to shower peace upon you and know that the wind isn't always hitting you head-on. Stop listening to that voice in your head that looks at the negative and start focusing on God's goodness.

Keeping the faith, one floundering footfall forward at a time.

"A Musing Pastor"

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First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com