Elijah the great prophet of 1 Kings calls for a famine in response to the apostasy of Israel. In response to his prayer God shuts up the heavens and there was no rain. God instructs Elijah to go to the brook Cherith where he would be provided for in the time of drought and pestilence.
We learn that as he is at the brook, God provides food for him through ravens and that he is to nourish himself by drinking the water from the brook [see 1 Kings 17:1-9]. At some point, after a period and season of being nourished by the water, God allows the brook to dry up because of the lack of rain.
The text reads: “It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land…then the word of the Lord came to him saying ‘arise, go to Zarapheth’” (1 Kings 17:7-9a).
I have heard it said by some preachers that the drying of the brook signals a time for you to move on. I have heard this used in the context of ministry. I used to buy into this; however, a closer examination of the passage reveals that Elijah did not move when the brook dried up: he moved when “the word of the Lord came to him, saying…arise….”
Elijah moved when he heard the voice of God – not when he saw the condition of the brook. So often we move when there is an adverse change in condition. We do not know how long Elijah waited in the face of a dry brook before he heard the Lord speak. What I do know is that often times for me growth in character happens in the “meantime” points of life. I am facing the end of what was sustaining me and my first instinct is to move. Yet, I am not ruled by what sustains me but who sustains me. There may be times when I must sit still [in the meantime] while things go south for me in the natural realm as I wait to get directions on what to do from God who speaks from the spirit realm.
I do not believe that the drying of the brook is a signal to shift but a signal to watch and listen for the move of God and the voice of God. For all we know, Elijah stayed for quite some time with an uncomfortable feeling and possible dehydration from thirst. However, it was more important to receive his orders of transition directly from God and not from his circumstances.
It has taken me a long time, but I have learned to wait in the tension of shifting circumstances and even drought until I hear the voice of the Lord speak; and then make that the determinative factor of when and how I transition. I have had to learn the hard way not to allow what it looks like to be what drives my impulses. I have to wait until God says “arise…go.”