The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green he leadeth me
The quiet waters by.Psalm 23
Elizabeth was crying. The family had been on a shopping expedition. Mom and Dad had wanted to go into town to buy household necessities – towels, curtains, kitchen ware and boring stuff like that. The good thing was that at some point while they were shopping they would go into one of those wonderful cheap shops were nothing cost more than sixpence. There were toys and sweets and wonderful things for six year old girls. The house purchases were finally done. It was off to Woolworths -specially for Elizabeth.
The family pushed through the doors at the front. Elizabeth could hardly wait. The adults tended to wander through the store looking at absolutely everything! Where were those wonderful counters which had the lucky dip sweets and the crayons and the colouring books? Mom had stopped to look at cups and saucers and more boring stuff. She might only be small but Elizabeth could travel at the speed of light when she wanted to- when she need to. And she needed to now. Off she went – past the groceries, past the decorating things, past the pretty plants and the pots for the garden. Here we are – lucky dip sweet mixes, tiny little dolls – colouring books. Ooh I’d love one of those – and that over there.
Where’s Mom and Dad? It was Saturday, and it was crowded. When you are little and you move at the speed of light to find what you really really want, then you tend to leave the adults behind. That’s what had happened. Elizabeth was surrounded by shopping bags, by handbags and by skirts and hips and trousers. What were her Mom and Dad wearing? Grey trousers and a green pleated skirt. All the men were wearing grey trousers. Her gaze rose as she tilted her head upwards. No one seemed to be wearing the same jacket as her Dad. There were red skirts, blue skirts, pretty floral print dresses – but no Mom. Black leather handbags- brown leather handbags, but not her Mom’s handbag. Elizabeth wasn’t thinking about the colouring books or the toys or the sweets any more. She couldn’t find Mom and Dad.
She pushed her way through the sea of handbags and skirts and trousers. Back to the grocery aisle. No – not there. Back to the gardening department – no – not there either. What was she going to do? By this time she was fighting back the tears. She was frightened and she had no idea what to do. People were looking at her as she struggled to squeeze past. Just ahead was a man in grey trousers and a jacket. He looked like her Dad. Thank goodness! But when she got closer she could see that he wasn’t. Not her Dad.
The tears had started now. She was lost and she was frightened. She was running through the grocery department yet again. In the distance were the doors to the store. If she could get there, perhaps she would see them. So a sobbing six year old little girl ran towards the exit. She was more alone than she had ever been in her life. Why had she been so impatient? Why hadn’t she waited? Two pairs of open arms greeted her on the way out. How relieved she was to see the welcoming smiles and the familiar faces. She’d wait till she was a bit taller before she went into big stores to find her shopping again.
Adults can get lost too. There’s a story about Elijah who was an important man. He was an early prophet. That meant he was a man of God and a leader of hi people. There were arguments in the land about which god the people should follow. Elijah believed that the people should follow his God, so he organised a competition to see which God would answer prayer. The God who could make fire was the one which the people should follow. Elijah’s God was the real God. He was the one who had the power to light the fire. Elijah and his God were victorious.
Elijah doesn’t sound like he was lost does he? Here’s the thing. When God had made the fire on the altar that he had built to God, it made the other people look a bit silly. They thought they’d been made to look like fools so they were angry. They were so angry that Elijah ran for his life. He ran into the mountains were he lived on very little water and very little food. He was hungry. He was thirsty and he was alone. He was lost. He had lost all the people who had supported him. A was alone in the mountains and he needed help. He had changed from being and important and respected man to a man who was afraid for his life.
He felt he had been deserted by all the people who had supported him. He didn’t know what God wanted him to do next. So he prayed. God didn’t come in the earthquake. God didn’t come in the whirling wind. When it was very quiet, Elijah heard God’s voice. Gods voice was in the still small voice of calm. When Elijah heard that still small voice he stopped being afraid. He stopped being alone because he was strong enough to return to the people who had been following him. He was not lost. He was found.
Like Elizabeth. And he could return to doing the work which God had planned for him. Sometimes – do we lose our way? Do we feel lost? When we are lost do we feel alone? And we become frightened. Those are the times when we need to stop and think. The times when we need to find our still waters – or our still small voice. Because in the stillness and the calm – that is when we sense peace – and find the strength to travel our own life journey.