The opera ain’t over …

Until Elijah sings.

By Patrick G Howard

What is it about birthdays that end in zero?

I have a confession to make. I have one of those zero birthdays coming soon. As I was thinking about that, I took pause to reflect and take inventory of my life. And as I looked back, I had to ask, “Is that all I have done?” Maybe you have done the same.

If you’re like me, it goes something like this.

When you’re 10, you have all those grandiose plans for the things you’re going to do in life. You’re going to go out there and change the world. You just have to wait until you’re an adult to get started.

Then you turn 20. Now you’re an adult and you’re ready to get started changing the world. You just need to finish college first.

Now you’re 30 and you just spent the years since you graduated climbing the corporate ladder, starting a family and claiming your piece of the American dream. But you don’t worry, because there will be plenty of time to conquer the world.

Wow! That 40th birthday sure snuck up on you. You wonder how you got there so fast and decide that maybe the world doesn’t need conquering after all. You figure that you’ll tighten the buckle for the rest of the ride and get ready for retirement.

Guess what happens when you have your 50th birthday? You get invited to a very special club. That’s right. You get your invitation to AARP in the mail. You are officially middle aged. Talk about a slap in the face.

Now, I don’t know what happens on your 60th birthday, but I’m about to find out.  And that brings me to our focus this month.

I start every day by reading a devotional and the bible. Before I do, I pray that God will show me what he wants me to see. (If you have never done that, try it. You will be amazed at how often God will speak to you throughout the day.)

The other day, I had this nagging thought. It occurred to me that I can see a whole lot more birthdays in my rear-view mirror than through my windshield. I realized that I don’t have much more time to get things done, and I started feeling a little sorry for myself. Well, that was the day that God spoke to me (through my morning reading) and revealed our focus of the month to me.

1 Kings 19 (4) Then he [Elijah] went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (5) Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat.”

How did Elijah get to this point?

After all, his life seemed to be trending upward. He had just confronted the prophets of Baal and proved whose god was supreme. Then God delivered the rain he promised, ending the three-year long drought. You would think that Elijah would be on top of the world, but he wasn’t. Instead of rejoicing in the confidence that he was solidly in favor with God almighty, he was afraid and discouraged because Queen Jezebel threatened to have him killed. But, what Elijah did next changed his whole outlook on life.

He prayed. He slept. He ate.

That is so simple, but so effective. How often have you been worried about a problem; prayed about it, slept on it, and figured out what you’re going to do about it over breakfast? That’s the way many of my problems are solved. (You get bonus points if an angel tapped you on the shoulder and talked to you while you were sleeping.)

And that brings me back to my story.

It’s true that I don’t have much more time to get things done, but here’s the thing; God doesn’t need much time. I still have plenty of time to accomplish what God wants me to do here on earth. And so, do you.

There is a real simple test to determine if you have done everything God wants you to do in life. Take a look at the grass and tell me what you see. If you see the green side, you’re not finished. If you see the roots …

I’m assuming that, since you’re reading this article you saw the green side this morning. That means your work is not finished. Now it might not be the work you wanted to do, but it is the work God planned for you to do.

Maybe there is a person that you need to encourage. Perhaps there is a child that you need to mentor. Who knows? Somebody may be waiting for you to share some little pearl of wisdom with them. You might have a disease to cure … or a song to write … or a speech to give.

So, the next time you think it’s over (or your problem’s too big) …

Do what Elijah did. Pray about it. Get a good night’s sleep. And eat a Whataburger breakfast burrito in the morning. You might be surprised at how often God will show you what he wants you to do next.