The Raven

Years ago, when I was invited to participate in a cohort for the Ministry Collaborative (then called Macedonian Ministry), I had no idea of the impact it would have on my life.  I admit that I was more than a bit skeptical about the outcomes – I’d been in my fair share of clergy support and peer learning situations.  But after spending several years with this group of clergy, from all over the place, with diverse backgrounds, and at every stage of ministry, I am certain that both my life and ministry were enriched and extended by the time we spent together. I was in a dry place, a lonely place, and God sent help.  Who knew?

I took this picture on my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land… a raven perched atop a cliff overlooking the Dead Sea… Jordan is faintly in the background. I look at it often.

It reminds me of the story of how God provided for Elijah during a drought. Elijah’s witness placed him in danger of the king’s wrath.  So, in isolation, which was likely providential, Elijah was instructed to drink from a brook and wait on the ravens to provide him meat.

At first glance, there’s not much to see here. God providing for his people during drought and famine is no strange thing.  However, in this case, the use of ravens is significant because ravens were considered unclean.

Elijah’s extraordinary circumstances led to uncommon blessings from unlikely sources.

With the past several years of the pandemic, political and social polarization, economic instability, uncertainty about our jobs, grief, and even anxiety about the future of our sacred institutions – none of us have been exempt from the effects. But, God provides!

While we often feel isolated in circumstances, we have an incredible opportunity.

Sometimes God’s methods are unexpected and the means are unlikely, but we can encounter uncommon blessings when we trust the Spirit’s guidance.  There is no record of Elijah questioning God’s instructions. Elijah obeys, and accepts God’s provisions, even when they arrive through unlikely sources.

If nothing else, the isolation, anxiety, and grief of these last several years have caused me to realize and appreciate God’s ability to use unlikely sources, and uncommon situations to extend unexpected blessings.

This raven – my raven – is a reminder to me of God’s amazing provisions – the strange and mysterious ways through which the Lord works.

What uncommon blessings have you encountered over the last few years. What unlikely sources?

2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

1 Kings 17:1–4 (ESV)

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