Friday, January 26, 2007

Running Out of Steam

Dave drove and I read. He pointed out fascinating scenery. I shared motivating tidbits from the printed page. After mispronouncing “calliope,” I sounded it out. Then I asked Dave what fueled the calliope instrument. He knew. The first ones ran on steam.

I later read that Joshua Stoddard invented the calliope, patented in 1855. Late in the century, horse-drawn circus wagons traveled to communities, in the beds calliopes and trademark organ pipes.

The calliope evolved from an 1832 “steam trumpet.” You still hear these today—known as train horns. Modernized calliopes and horns are fueled by compressed air, but the old ones ran on steam. It took steam to make music.

At least one time in the Prophet Elijah’s life, he ran out of steam and his song lost its lilt. F. LaGard Smith calls Elijah “God’s man for the hour.” He delivered messages to kingships and common men alike. Powered by God, miracles trailed his wake: he raised a boy from the dead and a widow’s jar of flour and jug of oil didn’t run empty during a drought.

After a nasty run-in with wicked Queen Jezebel, Elijah grew especially weary. Rampant idol worship in Israel, left Elijah feeling alone, abandoned in his faith with no one to fight alongside of him. His tune went flat.

That’s when God appeared with his booster cables. To Elijah hiding in a cave, God sent fireworks. First, he sent a jackhammer-wind that cracked the mountain and split stones (talk about compressed air).

What expression chiseled Elijah’s face when next an earthquake shook the soil he stood upon? When the earth quit wobbling, Elijah watched a bellowing fire devour trees and twigs. After the God-steamed display, Elijah heard a gentle whisper and he was drawn to The Voice that could right his senses.

God drew Elijah from his cave of self pity and gave him a huge helping of courage. He also told him that 7,000 Israelites had refused to bow to the Queen’s preferred idol. He wasn’t alone in his faith. After this God-arranged intimate encounter, Elijah “propheted” again.

Gas to keep driving. Air to keep tires up. Food for energy. Depleted sources still leave one weak and vulnerable to Satan’s tool of discouragement. But God can draw us out of caves of despair. He can profit us again because he is able to re-sculpt doubt into sheet music.

“Send forth you light and truth, let them guide me: let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell” (Psalm 43:3).

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