Reading from this morning’s daily office reference in The Mockingbird Devotional. It comes from Simeon Zahl.

But [Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” (1 Kings 19:4-7, ESV)

The grace of God is not always grand. Elijah here is trying very hard to see the big picture, to understand what is happening to him in epic scope. He wants to die; he is overcome by guilt and the legacy of his past; he wants to believe this is the end of his great and noble prophetic mission. He is doing his very best to have a Thelma & Louise moment.

God has compassion on Elijah anyways, despite the melodrama: “The journey is too great for you.” But instead of reminding him of his mighty task, or of the limitlessness of divine mercy, or of the importance of life and the beauty of Creation, God just gives him cake. And lets him sleep. And then gives him cake again.

Movie Animals

God knows what we need far better than we do, and often our true needs are embarrassingly mundane. It is humiliating to hear that sometimes, when we think we are wrestling with angels, we are mainly just tired and hungry, or that the sensation of drowning in oceans of guilt is mostly just a hangover. The worst attack of anxiety we can experience is, in the end, mainly the product of a couple of temporary chemical reactions in the chest and stomach.

At the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus meets with Simon Peter, absolves him of guilt for his three denials, sets his life task ahead of him, and predicts his painful death. But before any of this, he says, “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12).