[From the forthcoming book Lost in the Supermarket]
‘You need something to eat,’ I said.
He was sitting in the sun behind the store, looking dehydrated. I’d had a nudge to watch out for him and here he was, fed up and dejected. He’d had a plan, expected things to go a certain way and they hadn’t. So he was on the run. From the circumstances, and from himself. Which of course never works. Wherever you go – there you are. You take yourself with you. I gave him the provisions I’d just bought. A chilled water bottle and some fresh bread, still warm and smelling like the best thing on earth right then. I knew he wouldn’t resist it. As he tore it with his hands he muttered away.
‘I thought everything would change,’ he said through mouthfuls of dough. ‘I showed them didn’t I? proved it once and for all. The power of God right there. More real than anything they could muster. Fire from heaven! The one true God. What more could I have done? I busted my gut and what happens? Nothing. Instead I’m branded a criminal. I thought everyone would change. Realise who God is and respond to him. Live differently, turn their faces to him the way he has turned to them. Pah! What’s the point?’
I stood up and pointed down the road. Towards the hills.
‘You need to take a walk,’ I said, ‘make room inside yourself for God. Make some space in your mind and your will.’
‘Me? Me? What about them? They’re the ones who need to make space.’
I offered him my hand, pulled him up. He swigged some of the water.
‘I’m the only one,’ he whined. ‘The only one who believes anymore.’
I shook my head, said, ‘Don’t be daft. There are plenty of others. It just seems like that because the walls are closing in on you. Now come on, you have other things you need to do. So head for the hills and get some fresh instructions. Oh and you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled and your ears tuned.’
‘Why?’ he said, blinking in the sun.
‘Because God doesn’t always turn up with power and might, sometimes he’s in the whispers and the silences. Sometimes his voice is so small it takes a childlike attitude to catch it.’
1 Kings 19