Syria distracts Ahab’s attention and allows Elijah to live at home.
As they headed from Beersheba toward Arad, Elijah slapped Nathan on the shoulder. “Gera’s right. We need to get back to our mother. I couldn’t seem to talk about it with Gera, but the Lord did something that felt very much like our mother.”
“The Lord? The Lord’s like Mother?”
“You know how she takes your face in both her hands?”
“And pinch my cheeks? I hate it when our aunts and uncles do that, but it seems to give them some kind of joy.”
“No, not the cheek pinching thing. I’m talking about … when she wants to make me really listen, mother holds my face in both hands, so I’m looking right in her eyes. And back there on the mountain it was like I could feel the Lord holding my face between his two hands, with both eyes staring words right into me. I know every syllable.”
“Listen up, Elijah. You’re not the only one serving me, you hear? I’ve got reserve forces you never dreamed of — a complete company who never bent a knee or puckered up a kiss for that nasty Asherah stone.”
“Wow, if the Lord did that to me, I could never stand on my feet again.”
But by the time the brothers came out on the other side of Arad, Nathan was laughing.
“Reserve forces? Where’s He hiding them, in Obadiah’s two little caves?”
They followed the road from Arad down to the edge of the Dead Sea and followed the shore north on the same caravan route that brought them south. From the desert to the Jordan River on the same path. This time, though, instead of hiding in the swamp, they sometimes chatted with the camel pullers.
Nathan looked off at the turn west up to Jericho. “Here we are, going by this same intersection again. No, really, ‘Lijah, I don’t get it. Why did the Lord send us all the way south to get away from Jezebel’s scouts, and now we’re heading back north again?”
“Maybe they called off the search. I don’t know why.”
“Seems like the Lord would show you — like when He showed you the route to Zarephath. Doesn’t the Lord show you stuff anymore, now that your beard’s a little thicker?”
“Huh! Maybe I used to depend on that kind of thing, Nathan. But not today. It sounds crazy, but I just feel comfortable listening and going where the Lord points. I don’t have to know why, and I don’t have to know the outcome. Yesterday God showed me an earthquake, a tornado, and a fire. And He wasn’t in any of that. Then he spoke in a still small voice. And he said it’s not about me or what I do. It’s about Him and what He does. By the way, didn’t the aunts and uncles get over that cheek-pinching thing about the time you grew tall enough they had to reach up a foot above their own cheeks?”
When they arrived at the City of Adam, Elijah pointed straight ahead. “Before we see Mother, the Lord has an errand for me in a place we’ve never seen, Dancing Meadow.”
They kept going north another hour and turned west up into the hills. At the edge of the village, Elijah paused. “This should only take a minute. Tap this Elisha fellow on the shoulder and then Home to Mama.”
Elijah stopped the first person they found. “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you, Sir!”
“Would you know the Shaphats? We’re looking for Elisha, son of Shaphat.”
“Old farming family. Right back the way you came, not half a mile. Keep looking on your left.” The speaker glanced at the sun. “You should see them out plowing.”
“Thank you for your kindness to a pair of strangers, Sir! When you’re in Tishbe, look for us in our father Zadok’s vineyard.”
They went back the half mile as told and never could have missed the twelve pair of oxen breaking sod on their left. They walked respectfully out into the field, well away from the teams, until he stood in plain view of their twelve drivers. The driver of the twelfth pair stopped his team and jogged over.
Elijah smiled. “The Lord be with you!”
“The Lord bless you, Sir! Elisha’s the name. Son of Shaphat, up there driving the lead team.”
“This is for you.”
In one quick move, Elijah stepped up, draped his cloak over the man’s shoulders and walked away. Yet Elisha moved just as quickly right up beside him, matching stride for stride.
“I’ll kiss my father and mother goodbye, and then I’ll come with you.”
“Exactly as you should. Your parents know you first and best. Compared to them, what have I done? You can find me in Tishbe.”
So Elisha went back to his family while Elijah and Nathan stood and watched. He unhitched his yoke of oxen, and his family helped slaughter them. The men broke up the plowing equipment into small pieces while the boys took off jogging down the path. The men made a fire and roasted the meat. Soon the boys came back with neighbors, and Elisha came over to Elijah and Nathan. “It’s a party, and you’re invited.”
As they stood around munching roast ox, Nathan pulled Elijah aside. “Why did you toss your robe on this fellow? What are his duties?”
“Duties? I don’t even know my own job description. It’s a good question, too, Nate. Because if you could have dragged me away from that scene on top of Mt. Carmel when I was watching our guys repair the altar and heckling those poor Baal fools. If you could have, I might have listed a few duties for and assistant. But then I had to run from Jezebel to Mt. Horeb. And the Lord spoke to me in that cave. He really spoke, Nate. I learned that I’m not God’s fist or fire. If He chooses to speak through me, it will be as a still, small voice. And He’s not telling me to list duties for you or Howd or this Elisha person.”
After the going-away feast, Elijah and Nathan pointed their strides back down the path to the River and south to the Adam intersection again. Here they crossed the River and climbed. When they reached their familiar section of the Kings Highway, Elijah waved his arm out over the City of Adam and the Jordan River Valley. “It’s all beautiful. But right now, I just want to get home. I want to see Milcah and Mother.”
“What if she were not your mother?”
“Huh? While I was out in the desert wanting to die, were you dreaming up trick questions?”
“Not a trick.”
“OK. I’ll bite. What if our mother were not our mother, Nate?”
“Well, it’s like, did you ever think about what if our mom had married someone else? And our father had married someone else, too?”
“Yah, I know. But one day I was helping Mother at her stall on Market Street in Tishbe. And our mom, she looks over at a couple shopping about seven stalls away and says, ‘See that man and woman over there? When I was 12 and he was 14, I thought I was going to marry him.’ And just then that man and woman both turned and smiled at us, and I thought — I mean I had all these questions coming at me.”
- If Mom had married that man instead of our dad, what would I look like?
- Or would I be the child of our dad and some lady somewhere?
- Would we live in Ramoth?
- Could I be half here and half there?
- Maybe I wouldn’t even exist?
In spite of Nathan’s speculations, they turned west into the hills toward Jabesh and Tishbe and then into their father’s front yard.
1 Kings 19:20 – “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
 [do they spend the night?]