To Infinity and Beyond: When the Well Runs Dry (1 Kings 17)

It’s always a sad day when a developer closes their doors, an intellectual property fails, or a game gets cancelled.  When the news comes suddenly and without warning it is an even more difficult pill to swallow, as a beloved franchise unceremoniously disappears into the night without having a chance to say a proper goodbye to those who have lived in the worlds it created.  The news of the end of the Disney Infinity franchise is just the latest in a series of shocking endings as famed development studios like the recently shuttered Lionhead (creators of Fable) and so many others who have sadly failed to survive the harsh landscape of the gaming economy have ceased operations.

While my heart goes out to those whose dream jobs just vanished due to the fickle nature of the entertainment industry, I will confess much of my disappointment is purely selfish in nature as I realize my family and I have collected our last Infinity figures and will not get to explore more of the worlds created by this team that had so many excellent licenses but could not achieve their sales projections. This feeling of loss, of a dream that you have awoken from too soon, of unrealized potential that will never see the light of day is not limited to the ending of game franchises or other forms of entertainment.  I experience a very similar sense of disappointment as I face the fact that I am growing older and many of the hopes and dreams and plans I had established in my youth are either in the rear view mirror of my life or simply no longer achievable.  The harsh reality of closed off paths, of adventures that seem to have prematurely ended, and journeys that collapse before they have reached their peak can cause frustration, bitterness, and in the most serious of cases can challenge the foundation of your faith.  What is the road map for dealing with a well that dried up before you were ready for it to?

What is the road map for dealing with a well that dried up before you were ready for it to? 

As always, the Bible is not silent on this issue and provides some very candid commentary on how to understand and navigate these troubled waters. We can start with one of the most well known Old Testament prophets, Elijah, who had a penchant for following his incredible supernatural displays of God’s power with very human reactions.  1 Kings 17 records Elijah bursting onto the scene with a solemn proclamation directed at the wicked king of Israel, announcing a drought that would last until he chose to lift it. Immediately following this he receives guidance to adopt a low profile in a deserted area featuring a small brook to supply his water needs as well as a twice daily allotment of both bread and meat courtesy of a unique avian delivery service.  And Elijah takes up residence in his new oasis, his physical needs met miraculously through daily visits from friendly ravens like a scene from an old Disney cartoon.  While I am sure this locale was not all rainbows and butterflies, this scheduled and predictable provision gave Elijah a twice daily reminder that he was exactly where he was supposed to be, doing exactly what he was supposed to do, with God intimately aware of his daily needs.  There is a unique comfort in knowing that God, with all of His many responsibilities, took time twice a day to make Elijah a sandwich.

There is a unique comfort in knowing that God, with all of His many responsibilities, took time twice a day to make Elijah a sandwich.

Until the brook dried up without warning.  Elijah did not receive advance notice that his desert oasis had an eviction clause that would be executed so unceremoniously.  His water supply simply succumbed to the drought he had instituted.  His comfort level just shifted from “So Blessed” to “Now What?”  God’s miraculous provision in that setting was for a season, not a lifetime, and it was time for Elijah to move into his next station.  As difficult as it can be to accept the changes that are unwelcome interruptions in our cozy, comfy life plans, it is through these scenarios that we move from receiving from God to becoming a conduit for His goodness to reach others.  It is from here that he receives guidance, not before his well dried out but afterwards, as he is guided on his way to a desperate widow and her only child who are on the verge of starvation.  Now, God does not inform Elijah that he is being sent from one desperate situation to another in the form of a widow who was about to prepare her final meal.  No, He simply sends Elijah and informs him that He has made reservations without troubling him with details like that.  And this is a pattern I have seen so many times both in scripture as well as in my own life, as God guides us from brook to brook, stripping us of our desired autonomy so we will learn to simply follow Him.

God strips us of our desired autonomy so we will learn to simply FOLLOW Him.

If you think about it, that’s what this is really all about right?  The most common request Jesus made on the people he met while walking this earth was “Follow me”.  This was not some metaphysical question, or just a spiritual metaphor for a heart condition… He literally meant to FOLLOW Him.  Walk with Him wherever He is going for the day.  Sleep where He decides to stop for the day.  Eat together.  Talk along the way.  Stop planning for a future that fulfills your personal goals and accept His itinerary, complete with all of the undefined destinations.  Those who fully embraced the concept of life as a free form road trip with their Creator are also those who experienced many of the most incredible and supernatural manifestations recorded in Scripture.

Follow His lead into the desert.  You might find a burning bush with something to say.  Ask Moses about that.  Let Him guide you into a seemingly innocuous errand of delivering lunch to your loved ones.  You might run into a giant that needs a good slaying.  David knows that first hand.  Listen when He asks you to leave your fishing boat, your career, and all that you have worked so hard to build behind.  You may be taking your first steps into your true destiny.  If it is a path that He has asked you to follow Him on, even water will become a load bearing structure to support your progress.  Peter would also remind you not to look down.

Those who fully embrace the concept of life as a free form road trip with their Creator are also those who experience the most incredible and supernatural manifestations in Scripture. 

The end of one story is only disappointing if you fail to see the creative possibilities that will be unleashed as a result.  We won’t see any more Disney Infinity titles, but now these characters are available to be licensed into new software projects that may surpass what remained within the current toy box.  And the software developers impacted by the studio closure will have an opportunity to create something new and different under new leadership, no longer limited by the constraints inherent in dealing with brands the size of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars.  Elijah had so much more left to accomplish and his displacement from his comfortable place of provision was the catalyst for a life of extraordinary adventure.  Where is He asking you to go today?

 

 

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