WHEN THE BROOK DRIES UP
Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “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 the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
(1 Kings 17: 1-9)
Should I Stay or Should I Go? was a song by English punk rock band The Clash.
It’s also a question we ask ourselves at different stages throughout life.
Should I remain where I am…
…in this job?
…in this relationship?
…in this ministry?
…in this community?
…is it time to move on?
…go somewhere new?
…try something different?
It can often be a difficult decision. Especially when we have an emotional attachment to our current place or there’s a lot to lose from making a change.
We want to be sure we are doing the right thing.
We seek assurance and direction up front.
As believers, another way we express this question is:
“What is God calling me to do?”
After much thought, I’ve concluded that our primary calling doesn’t change all that much throughout our lifetimes. It might be wider or more expansive than we originally thought. But our calling is hardwired into us from conception. It’s part of the Divine DNA that is expressed in Psalm 139:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” |
(Psalm 139: 13-14)
God created you on purpose and with intention. You were crafted with a calling in mind.
However, while your primary calling remains the same, God will give you new assignments to fulfil that calling.
And those assignments have a set time attached to them.
Some will be long, and others will be short.
But it is really important to recognize when an assignment has come to an end.
We need to know when (and how) to move on when our assignment is complete.
Because if we don’t release the old, we can’t take hold of the new thing – the next assignment – that God is opening before us.
How do you recognize when it time to move on?
The story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 gives us some clues
- You move when God has clearly spoken.
We read twice in our Bible passage:
“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here…” (vv. 2-3)
“Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once…” (vv. 8-9)
God might communicate through a prophetic word, maybe a dream, perhaps a vivid vision. Usually, the bigger and more costly the move, the greater will be the direction and confirmation.
In my book The Tension of Transition, I share about an open vision I had in which I was released from a prison cell. In the vision, I knew I had to keep on walking, even if I didn’t know what was waiting on the other side.
At the time, I had been praying for God to ‘open a door’ into a new ministry. This vision confirmed that the ‘door was open’ for me to leave without knowing where exactly He was leading me.
When God speaks like this, He will usually confirm it through other people and situations.
You might start getting different prophetic words about moving, relocating, a new position, a different ministry.
Often your circumstances will confirm it as well. Something starts to change. Relationships shift. Your heart begins to detach from the place/role/position.
It’s important not to make a major life decision based on one dream or prophetic word. As I said yesterday, if you seek Him, He will bring clarity.
And then there usually comes a point when He releases you from that place or position. You sense it in the Spirit. It’s time to go.
- You move when your ‘brook’ dries up.
When God wants us to move, He will sometimes allow us to experience an unexpected depletion of resources in an area where there was previously sufficient provision.
Elijah had originally been instructed to camp by the Kerith Ravine. Here the LORD supplied all his needs and sustained him during a severe famine. Then we are told:
“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.” (v. 7)
When the source of his supply dried up, God moved Elijah on to his next assignment. The depletion of resources preceded the shift in seasons.
Has your brook dried up?
Is there any area where previous provision is running low?
Maybe in your work, orders aren’t coming in. Or your services just aren’t in demand like they were before.
Or it could be that the passion you once had for a place or position has dried up. You used to love it. Now it drains you.
In a friendship, you were once excited to see the person regularly. They energized you. Now, it feels as if you have nothing in common. Conversation is strained. Every time you hang out, you leave feeling weary and depleted.
In a church or ministry, it increasingly feels as if you are no longer aligned. Being in this place used to feed your spirit and ignite your zeal for Christ. Now, it seems stale and as if they are simply going through the religious motions. You’ve changed – but they’re doing what they’ve always done.
Sometimes unexpectedly, things just shift. There’s no obvious reason for it. But it almost fails as if someone has turned off a faucet. There’s no longer any flow. Everything increasingly feels dry and barren.
It could well be a sign that God is reorienting and repositioning you for the next assignment.
- You move on when God makes new provision of resources and relationships.
I often say that ‘when the ‘grace lifts in one area of your life, God relocates it somewhere else’.
New doors open, new opportunities are presented, new resources are made available, new connections form.
When the brook dries up for Elijah, God doesn’t leave him without provision. He instructs Elijah:
“Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” (v. 9)
In our own journey, when God called us to make a major move, we were reluctant to leave as it seemed that we had nowhere else to go. However, as we eventually stepped out in obedience, we discovered that He had already made provision in a new place. First, a home was made available to us. Then, once we relocated, new ministry positions soon opened in a church that we loved.
Sometimes it happens the other way around. God unexpectedly places a new door, opening, or opportunity in front of you. You didn’t see it coming. You were quite happy in your current role.
Your first instinct might be to turn it down or to ignore it. However, you begin to recognize that God is drawing you into something new. And to step into it, you will have to leave where you currently are.
Notice that God tells Elijah to leave “at once”.
In other words, once an assignment is finished, don’t hang around. There’s no reason to linger or keep looking back.
The truth is that most people stay too long in an assignment that has reached its expiration date. We struggle to let go of the old. We become comfortable. We love the familiar. We develop connections and relationships. We get settled. And we don’t like the unknown, unpredictable, and unfamiliar.
Often you are leaving more than a job or a role. Your identity might be attached to it. You’re maybe walking away from status, security, relationships, emotional support, and community.
In these days of shaking and disruption, God is calling many of His people into new roles, places, positions, and alignments.
This is a ‘levelling up’ season. He is placing something new into your hand.
But to fulfil his purposes and plans, we may have to make a move.
What is God speaking to me right now about my current assignment?
- Is it complete?
- Is there still more to be done in this area/role/position?
- Am I sensing a shift in some part of my life?
Has my brook dried up?
- Is there still a ‘flow’ in this area?
- Or have things started to go stagnant?
- Is my heart fully engaged?
- Or have I started to flatline and lose passion?
What is God placing before me?
- Are there new opportunities or open doors?
- Is He aligning me with new connections or relationships?
- Are new resources becoming available?
Don’t rush on from these questions. Pray into them. Write down what you’re experiencing. Ask God for the next steps.
Even if you can’t see what lies ahead, if one assignment is coming to an end, trust that the Father has already prepared the next thing for you.