by Alan Stewart
While the long drought we experienced last summer was difficult to endure, it actually saved the life of eighteen year old college student Julian McCormick.
On the morning of September 1, Julian left his Bowie State University campus to pick up his girlfriend, but he never arrived. As the days began to pass, his family feared the worst, but hoped for the best.
On the tenth day of his disappearance, a woman driving down the road spotted his car flipped over beneath a bridge in the bottom of a drying creek bed. Amazingly, Julian was still alive. During his ten-day ordeal of being trapped upside down in the vehicle, Julian survived by drinking water out of his shoe and eating a fish that he had caught which had become trapped in a puddle as the creek bed was drying. Authorities on the scene noted that Julian would have drowned, had this particular creek maintained its normal level of water.
In first Kings 17, a grievous drought had spread throughout the land, but the Lord had kept his servant Elijah safe, secret, and satisfied by the Brook Cherith. While there, ravens were sent by the Lord to miraculously feed him bread and flesh, "...and he drank of the brook." However, after a time, the brook dried up because there had been no rain.
The brook symbolized everything Elijah was banking his hopes of survival on, and now it had dried up. Daniel must have sensed his spiritual brook had dried when he earnestly prayed for three weeks without an answer. Hezekiah surely felt his physical brook had dried up when Isaiah foretold his death. Joab must have felt his financial brook had dried up after his barley field was set on fire. For many, a dried brook calls for erecting a tombstone which reads: "It was when the brook dried that there I died."
But, if you will refuse to panic, a dried brook can produce supernatural fruitfulness. What is the right perspective to hold when the brook runs dry?
The brook runs dry to prove our obedience. In verse 4, the Lord said to Elijah, "...thou shalt drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." Had Elijah stopped at another brook that was flowing and flourishing, it would not have been ravens that met him, but rather buzzards!
Once the brook ran dry, he was commanded to move to Zarephath. Far too many become fearful to move when their brook runs dry, and they linger beside the dry brook in disobedience. The devastating result is they resort to eating the ravens which were meant to be a blessing!
Are you in the place where the Lord wants you to be? Lot found prosperity in Sodom, but he had no influence. Samson had pleasure with Delilah, but he had no strength. Peter had warmth when he stood by the fire, but he had no courage. Why? Their lives were out of place.
Again, the brook runs dry to purify our observations. For a year, the Lord had concealed Elijah's whereabouts. During that time, his friends were birds, his food was bread, and his fondness was a brook. How easy it is to get into the mundane routine of life and only see the birds, the bread, and the brook, but lose focus on the God who gave them to you.
Watchman Nee once said, "because of our proneness to look at the bucket and forget the fountain, God has frequently to change His means of supply to keep our eyes fixed on the source." When Job lost everything that gave him worldly success, he discovered he still had the Lord. Although David had his throne stripped away, his comfort came in knowing, "God is for me." When John was abandoned on Patmos to die, he found the Lord is truly "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." May we never forget He is not only Lord of the brook, but also Savior of the dried brook.
Yet again, the brook runs dry to present us opportunities. Once the brook ran dry, "the word of the Lord came unto [Elijah]." The word was, "get thee to Zarephath," and there he would see even greater miracles that would deepen his trust in the Lord.
Psalm 1:3 compares our lives to "a tree planted by the rivers of water." Though the river may diminish in its stream, if we allow our roots to dig deeper we not only develop a stronger hold, but we gain richer opportunities. It was several dried brooks that brought Joseph to the heights of Egyptian leadership. Had the brook not dried up for Moses in Egypt he would have never seen the glory of God. When the brook dried up for Jesus on the cross it led Him to Resurrection Sunday! Earthly brooks may diminish, but the river that runs from the throne of God never runs dry!
I find it interesting that First Kings 17 begins with an introduction of "Elijah the Tishbite," but it closes "Elijah...a man of God." To onlookers, the dry brook would have appeared to be the swan song of Elijah, but in reality it was the making of Elijah.
Any circumstance that leads us closer to the Lord is worth the price to get to Him. It is a necessity in the Christian life that, on occasion, the Lord must dry our brook. If not, we would drown in our overflowing abundance and simply be up a creek.
© 2007 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart pastors Rechoboth Baptist Church in Soddy Daisy, Tenn.