A solitary Broom Tree and our cultural moment.
Busy lives hide a lot of issues.
In our modern culture, we pretty much resist stillness at any cost. We will watch, flick, swipe, scroll... anything to ensure we are doing something.
And then a pandemic hits.
We find ourselves at home. Alone a lot more. With more time to think.
I’ve found this - Isolation can bring out inner insecurities. It has for sure happened to me during this time. And as I survey our generation I can see that there are things coming to the surface that we need to deal with. Like our marriages, and our mental health, and our faith.
Illustrative story: Elijah.
Elijah had his great victory at Mount Carmel.
Rain after years of drought.
God provided miraculous from heaven – a victory over King Ahab.
And then Ahab’s wife – Jezebel – found out what had happened. She threatened to kill Elijah.
He finds a solitary broom tree and sits under it all alone and wallows in his depression.
The miracle on the mountain didn’t solve his internal fear issues or his depression.
Now God has just answered his prayers in the most emphatic manner - a public display of awe. I’m sure God will do the same again? Except God doesn’t.
All Elijah gets is some bread and a jar of water, and he is told this will sustain him for the journey ahead.
God gives him the nourishment he will need to make the journey. But he has to pick himself up from that tree and start a process of inner healing.
It’s as if this man had the most awesome church service. And then he has to step into real life and all his issues still exist.
I’m fascinated by the imagery of the Broom Tree. The author takes time to describe this tree is solitary. Alone. Elijah swings from public success to private insecurity in a day.
But the moment the confetti lands; The ribbons are put away; The stage is packed up; The crowd disperses; Elijah is finally alone. He discovers his soul is in need of a reset.
• Outwardly he is a success.
• Inwardly he is empty.
• Outwardly God has provided a miracle in his circumstances.
• Inwardly he is going to need to go on a process to start again and start differently.
So I want you to picture him sitting under the broom tree. And then picture yourself.
Our cultural moment is a figurative broom tree experience.
What is isolation and private reflection bringing to the surface?
And more importantly, are we recognizing that the miracle of providing bread and water is as significant as the spectacle on Mount Carmel?
Don’t just look for the obvious breakthroughs or the public victories that God brings - look for the bread and the water. God provides for the journey - and the real answers are found on that journey. No matter how it feels right now, God always gives us the nourishment we need to take the next step forward - and that is one step closer to the future He has for us!