Anticipating the Cloud

During my student years I took some time out. I lived on Mount Carmel for 3 months. As an adventurous 20yr old with a summer to fill I said to God ‘I’ll go anywhere in the world to serve you this summer. Where shall I go?’ I sensed God reply ‘Go wherever you want’. That’s how I ended up in Israel and living in an Arab village on Mount Carmel.

While I was there I had strong desire to be back to the UK, not because I was homesick, but to be part of what God was going to do. Anticipation began to grow in me for what God was doing and going to do in the UK. That anticipation has never left me.

In 1 Kings 17:1 Elijah announces “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”  Then in Chapter 18 God whispers to Elijah the climate is going to change – rain is on its way. He has a sense of anticipation.

Get Ready!

41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!” 42 So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees.

Ahab gets ready practically and Elijah gets ready spiritually and the two are connected.

What is happening? 

We can be ready, but we can’t make it rain. However, God says you can make it rain, but you have to go through me. With God all things are possible.

I heard a whisper from God when I was 21 about a student movement coming.

Saying to the church - Get some student workers ready, I hear a student movement coming.

Get the resources ready, I hear a whole generation need preparing for university

Get the Student Linkup app ready – I hear the footfall of millions crossing borders to study.

Go and look

43 Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 

First time must have been quite exciting – no rain for 3 years and he gets to be the weatherman. A sense of expectancy and anticipation. I imagine he is looking for the cloud all the way, not listening to his iPod and distracted and then when he arrives at the top starts looking. He is active and waiting to see the sign. I bet the first time he stays up there for some time, straining his eyes for a glimpse of the cloud. Joining in with Elijah’s prayers.

The waiting isn’t passive. The waiting is active.

Eventually he has to come back down and tell Elijah – no cloud. Elijah doesn’t strike me as the sort of guy who would have his feet up watching box sets waiting for news.  I reckon he’ll be in his favourite, desperate prayer position. 

It is hard for the servant and it is hard for Elijah. They are persevering in the practical and they are preserving in the spiritual and the two are connected.

How are we waiting?

Are we looking, expecting and anticipating signs of God’s activity?
Expecting to find people who need love, acceptance, healing and salvation?
Expecting to be used by God?
Expecting that God has gone before us?
Expecting that in the active waiting, in the perseverance we too will be changed in the process?
Are we participating in the change we want to see?  

It can appear like not much is happening, that if we weren’t looking not a lot would change

Seven times the trek to the sea view happened - it’s tiring, monotonous, and even painful with blisters.
Seven is the number of completion in scripture. They did this ritual of looking and praying for the cloud until it appeared. They persevered.

44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.”

Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’”

He’s shouting – change is coming, change is imminent

If you aren’t ready and you don’t act, you are in danger of being stopped by the very thing you have been praying for.

45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. 46 Then the LORD gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt[a] and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah had special strength to live in dry times and times of abundance

Remember:

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for over three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:17-18 NIV

Don’t give up. Spiritual climate change is here and it is coming.

Rich Wilson

Fusion Movement Leader

Rich loves students and God’s church and has championed the important role of local churches in student mission for over 25 years. He wants to invite a generation to A Call Less Ordinary.

Partner with Rich