The more we hustle and rush to accomplish things for God by our own efforts, the more his power drains out of us. This happened in the Old Testament again and again. Israel was always moving ahead of God, frustrating his plans for them and robbing him of the glory he deserved as their faithful deliverer.
At times Israel even aligned with pagan armies to defend themselves against bigger enemies, which God forbade them to do. We have the same tendency today. Our flesh is simply inclined to move ahead of the Lord.
Elijah knew what it meant to wait on the Lord. I love this verse about him: “The word of the Lord came to [Elijah], saying, ‘. . . hide yourself ’” (1 Kings 17:2-3). I believe these are some of the hardest words any follower of Jesus can hear. It’s the equivalent of Jesus telling his disciples, “Wait.” The Lord is faithful to move at his chosen time if we will wait.
For the disciples, waiting was a matter of weeks; for Elijah, it was three years. That was the remaining length of the famine Israel endured after God spoke to him. Imagine how hard that period must have been for Elijah. He had a word from God burning in his heart—but he was commanded to stay silent for three long years.
Once those years passed, however, God told Elijah, “Go, show yourself . . . and I will send rain upon the earth” (18:1). At the appointed time, Elijah took part in an amazing blessing that God imparted to his people.
Today, a lot of us “show ourselves” before God’s appointed time. We end up spinning our wheels, tiring ourselves, becoming weary in doing God’s work. Friend, the only power we’ll ever have for God’s work will come from time spent in prayer.