By Dick Duerksen
I Kings 7:2-6
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
The Kerith ravine and its brook have always looked barren, empty, brown, and boring as I read of Elijah’s hideout. Kerith must have been a place where Elijah would be safe because no one would ever even consider walking there, much less searching the forgotten ravine for the rain-stopping prophet. A perfect place to hide.
However, those pictures blurred last evening as I stumbled along a horrendous path and tripped down a fully-vertical maze of tree roots to the ravine in which Abiqua Creek flows an hour from my home in Oregon.
I found it on the internet, that ghoulish place where years-old blogs promise gold at the end of the trail. Where landscape photographers go to die.
I was hooked, enthralled by the ravine’s promised beauty, and emboldened by its nearness. I would go. Alone. Late in the day. When the light would be smooth, the water clear, and the Autumn leaves gold. It would be more than promised.
Two hours later, I stood in the brook’s cold clear water, my knee blooded but my ankles whole. I was in awe. A canopy of golden maples hung above black water. Autumn leaves left trails of red and gold in the stream. Except for the rush of a distant waterfall, the air was silent.
Then a raven swooped by, calling a raucous welcome.
That’s when I lost my old pictures of the Kerith Ravine. What if Kerith had been canopied with gold rather than dusted in brown? What if the brook were a creek with trout pools, a rushing waterfall, and multiple hiding places - perfect for hungry prophets.
Elijah was a wise country man, capable of believable disguises and cunning escapes. A ravine like the Abiqua would make a perfect safe house while he awaited God's direction. Abiqua is walled with basalt columns and lava caves that would provide privacy and safety when wandering tourists came to party, or when shepherds came searching lost sheep. The ravine’s forest is Sherwood thick, and the only trail is too steep for the king’s horsemen.
If Kerith were like Abiqua, Elijah could have lived here for months, at home in this ante-room to Heaven’s throne, dining on Heaven’s bread, drinking Heaven’s water, and conversing with the true King.
I sat silent beside Abiqua’s waterfall, listening to the water’s rush and the wind’s whispers, imagining God’s voice speaking through them to me, His servant. I wanted to stay, to breathe deeply and relax fully in this place of Divine safety. I felt whole at the stream. On hold, but not neglected.
I Kings 7: 7-10
Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath.