FAITH: Hearing God Beneath the Broom Tree
© Third Millennium, LLC
By Deacon Keith A. Fournier
A lesson from Elijah: true faith begins under the broom tree where we surrender our will to God and begin to hear His still small voice!.
Elijah was a mighty prophet—in word and in deed. He had confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and proven his valor. But when Jezebel threatened, the mighty man of God had seemingly met his end…or his beginning. Retreating to a desert to die, under a broom tree, he encountered the Lord of life. His surrender was the beginning of authentic faith and the model for all those who seek to live an authentic life of faith.
I seem to be spending more time under the broom tree, as I get older.
Most people have heard of the marvelously dramatic encounter between the great Old Testament prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal that occurred on Mount Carmel. It is recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament's Book of First Kings. The powerful prophet of the one true God confronts hundreds who oppose him in a test of daring do. Each builds an altar and calls upon his God to send fire to consume it.
However, most people are not familiar with the story that follows in the next chapter of the Biblical text. This same mighty prophet runs for cover—seeking refuge in a desert under a broom tree, begging God to take his life—when confronted by a wicked queen named Jezebel. But, it is here where we can learn the most profound lesson for the journey of life, because it is here where most of us truly live.
Oh I know—many would tell us that the Carmel encounter is the norm we should experience. They often strut before cameras these days looking mad (at the devil they say) and yelling a lot. They insist that the true Christian life is one of bravado.
It is not, and we know it.
Worse yet, many of these new haughty hucksters seem to insinuate that anyone who isn't calling down fire on his enemies is not truly "saved."
Look, I believe in the Biblical account and marvel at the courage of Elijah and the power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to confound the false prophets of Baal. However, it is this same God who chooses to meet and dialogue with Elijah under the broom tree. And it is this same Elijah who—even after the Carmel experience—runs into the desert, prays for death, and collapses in exhaustion under the broom tree.
The early Christians used this encounter frequently in their efforts to allegorically explain the Christian life. They referred to death itself as falling asleep. It was the point of complete surrender. Interesting that it is in this story that Elijah actually encounters the Lord in an intimate relationship.
It is under the broom tree where he is fed a hearth cake and water (a eucharistic symbol) and given directions for his life journey (an encounter of hearing God's Word). Here, where he is truly prepared to further hear the voice of God as He passes by. That voice of a loving God comes not in a mighty wind, an earthquake, or a fire—but in a gentle whisper—the kind that can only be heard by one who has a surrendered ear to hear.
Millennia later, God would come as a Man. He would speak on three mountains. On the first He would give the new law through which His followers would call down the fire of love to consume the world with their lives of poured-out-love. On the second He would be transfigured before their eyes in the presence of Elijah and Moses, fulfilling both the law and the prophets. And on the third He would speak again in a whisper ("It is finished") and give himself up in complete surrender to redeem the world that had rejected His love.
There is mystery here deep and profound—yet, as simple as the lesson learned under the broom tree.
God is still searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him. Often, it takes the depletion of all of our own efforts and resources before we are willing to give up and give in to Him.
But when we do—the life of true faith begins.
Only then can we hear the God of surrendered love in the whisper of the wind.
Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier, the founder and president of "Common Good", is a constitutional lawyer. Long active in political participation, Fournier was a founder of Catholic Alliance and served as its first President. He is a pro-life and pro-family lobbyist. He was the first Executive Director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice). He also served as an advisor to the presidential campaign of Steve Forbes. Fournier holds a Bachelors degree (B.A.) from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Philosophy and Theology, a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) from St. Thomas University. Fournier is the author of seven books on issues concerning life, faith, evangelization, ecumenism, family, political participation, public policy and cultural issues. He is a features editor for Catholic Online and the Co-Director of “Your Catholic Voice”
http://www.commongoodonline.com VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - President/Founder, 757 546-9580
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