Have you ever felt like you’re in a season of waiting? Like you were in a holding pattern before a big change?

That was me last fall, when I started doing Priscilla Shirer’s Elijah study with some women at my church. I felt like God was preparing our family for something, like a big change was just around the corner. Like he was preparing us to leave this church family we’d been part of for more than 10 years.

Then, during week two, we started studying examples of God’s preparation during separation, and I felt like it was exactly what I was experiencing.

In 1 Kings 17:2-6, we see that God separates, sustains, and surprises Elijah. Later, we find out he shielded him during this time as well.

Separation Before Change

One of the things Priscilla pointed out is that when God’s beginning to prepare you for the next season, He calls you to release your grasp on something, someone, or someplace (page 47).

This helps us shift our focus back to God, rather than remaining in comfortable distractions. It gives us practice relying on Him.

Have you noticed times just before a big change where God separates you from what’s comfortable, and uses that time to prepare you for the next season?

Priscilla pointed out four examples of this in the Bible:

I found the timing of this so encouraging! I’d been feeling kind of distant from my church family, despite continuing our regular activities. I wondered if maybe God was getting us ready to go somewhere else, and then Priscilla pointed out this biblical example and I felt like she was talking to me.

As usual, the timing God arranged was perfect.

Sustaining Through Change

In 1 Kings 17:4, we see that God provided food and drink for Elijah.

I found the context Priscalla brought into this verse very helpful, given that I’m not an outdoorsy person: Brooks are unreliable. You don’t always know if and when they’ll dry up.

But Elijah was an outdoorsy person. He knew that brooks are unreliable, and he chose to obey God anyway–even with the risky reality in mind.

God makes a promise here: you will drink of the brook. He was telling Elijah, “Your needs will be met,” and, “You’ll be refreshed.”

See, God may be separating you from your job, friends, extended family, city, etc. But He’s not separating you from Him. He’ll never do that. Instead, He uses that time of uncertainty to help you grow closer to Him by relying on Him more heavily.

God promises that no matter what, He’ll never leave you. He’ll rescue you. He’ll provide for you. He hears you. He gives you wisdom. He keeps you safe.

Surprising in Change

Do you enjoy surprising your children? It’s so fun when you can do something unexpected, exciting, and completely out of their understanding of what’s even possible.

God likes to surprise us, too. He provides in ways we could never imagine. Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us He does more than we even think to ask for.

He did for Elijah. God sent ravens to provide him with food (1 Kings 7:4). Why is this so surprising?

You probably already know that ravens are scavengers. They go after food that’s already dead. When I think of them, I think of dead carcasses and disease. Elijah would have also had an aversion to ravens, given that in Levitus 11:13-16 we’re told they’re detestable. 

And yet, God used them to provide Elijah with food. He must have been completely shocked! But it’s a fantastic example of God providing in a surprising way to help address areas we need to grow.

Shielding During Change

Elijah didn’t find this out until later (and we don’t read about it until 1 Kings 18), but God used this time of separation to protect Elijah. King Ahab was hunting him, and he wasn’t even aware of the danger.

I’m sure there are times you can look back in your life and see that God shielded you from danger. At the time, perhaps you questioned why, or maybe you didn’t. 

But if you look back now, I’m sure you can see ways that God protected you and prepared you for what was coming next in your life.

What can we learn from this? I liked a lesson Priscilla pointed out: We should be grateful, not griping in the middle of it. 

When things aren’t going the way you expect, consider that maybe God’s at work in ways you can’t see. Maybe he’s doing something that will take longer, feel harder, and be more surprising to keep you safe and get you ready for what’s around the corner.

Your Attitude

You may not be able to control your circumstances, or even how you feel, but you can control your attitude.

When God had Elijah separate from what he knew, he sent him to Cherith, a place that was back towards where he came from, but not home itself. It was a new place.

I bet there were times he wished he was home again, in the land he knew and felt comfortable in, rather than hanging out by an unreliable brook, waiting for detestable ravens to bring him food. 

It’s human nature to long for past comforts. I’ve noticed I especially long for my young adult years when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life, trapped by responsibility, missing the ease of having fun with friends and the freedom to do what I want. 

But I can’t go back. And even if I could, it wouldn’t be helpful for me.

As Priscilla wrote on pages 63-64:

The comfort zone of life can be just as damaging to our spiritual growth as the enticing attraction of future ambition. That’s why sometimes, in order to get us adequately prepared for the moments to come, God may not allow us to return to the way things used to be, the place where we could easily become lulled into complacency. When God needs us bold and fervent and clear of mind–when He wants our faith primed and pregnant for His fire to fall–He’ll often call us to an in-between place. Not quite where we’re going to be, but not all the way back where we were…That’s when you know you’re in Cherith–when you feel like you’re languishing between the unrealized fruition of well-meaning ambitions and the formerly fine habits and habitats of a former season of your life–when neither one feels open to you with a clear conscience and an assurance of God’s leading.

When you’re in this in-between place, where you’re separated from the comforts you’re used to and not sure what’s around the corner, resist the temptation to push forward before God or the appeal to run back home. Trust God’s timing. He knows what’s coming and His timing will be perfect.

If Elijah hadn’t obeyed God and waited in an unfamiliar place, he would have missed important growth God was working on him.

As Priscilla wrote on page 65:

Life in the middle can be unsettling, but don’t be discouraged. Stay put. Trust God, and in due time He’ll move you on.

While I was waiting to see what God would do next, this was exactly what I needed to hear! I could continue to trust that He had a plan.

And He did! I can clearly see that the time of separation, sustaining, surprising, and shielding prepared us for some big changes that were around the corner. 

While I am sad I need to say goodbye to the comforts of our current life, friends, and nearby family, I’m excited to see that God is putting us exactly where He wants us–where He’s been preparing for us.

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