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Poor Elijah. He’s had quite a week. One minute he’s staging a spectacular god-smackdown on Mt. Carmel, calling down fire from heaven, condemning idolatry, slaughtering the priests of Baal. The next minute, he’s running a marathon trying to beat a rainstorm. Then he’s fleeing to the desert to evade a ruthless queen’s death threats. No wonder he finally lays down under a broom tree and tells God, “I’ve had enough.”

God understands, though, that sometimes in a crisis, the smallest things make the biggest difference. So a ministering angel shows up with a little hotcake and some water. After a good nap, another dose of angel-cake, and a little more encouragement, Elijah is ready to move on again. He has deeper encounters with God yet to come.

I Kings 19 says nothing about the angel bringing Elijah any reading material to pass the time while he rests in the desert, but I bet if Elijah had a cell phone and could get service, he would want to scroll through a daily blog featuring short essays reminding him that, as he tried to figure out how to serve God in a confusing world, he was not alone.

You see where I’m going with this. Chances are you don’t spend your days defying the priests of Baal or fleeing from evil tyrants—at least not literally. But we do live in a confusing world, and we do get exhausted, and we do need to strengthen one another in discernment, to encourage one another toward deeper encounters with God.

That’s why I’m grateful for The Twelve blog, which is one important space where Reformed writers try to speak out of faithful Christian practice and principled thought, to speak with humor and wisdom, to blend prophetic fervor with regular good sense. The community we’ve built is so important.

None of us need despair, as Elijah did in his worst moments, that he was all alone. Here we have a community of readers and writers who share a profound trust that God is redeeming the world—through us and despite us.

We have just completed eight full years of daily posts. That’s almost 3000 essays, by dozens of writers. Every day, we ponder and muse and challenge and joke and lament and consider, inviting our readers to join us in the daily work of faithful discipleship. Those of us who write for The Twelve hope that our readers can depend, every day, on finding a little nourishing sustenance here.

Thank you for supporting the blog through your faithful readership. We’d be grateful if you could help us with your financial support so that we can keep this good thing going. Give a one-time gift or, better yet, help us with a monthly donation. Sometimes, the smallest things make the biggest difference. Thanks.

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Debra Rienstra

I am a writer and literature professor, teaching literature and creative writing at Calvin University, where I have been on the faculty since 1996. Born and bred in the Reformed tradition, I’ve been unable to resist writing four books about theological topics: beware the writer doing theology without a license. My most recent book is Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress, 2022). Besides the books, I’ve written well over two hundred essays for the RJ blog as well as numerous articles, poems, and reviews in popular and scholarly contexts. I have a B.A. from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers. I am married to Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, and together we have three grown children. Besides reading and writing, I love classical music, science fiction, fussing in the yard, hiking, and teaching myself useful skills like plant identification and—maybe someday—drywall repair.

One Comment

  • John vanStaalduinen says:

    Here we have a community of readers and writers who share a profound trust that God is redeeming the world—through us and despite us.
    This is the most profound sentence in this blog in my opinion.
    There are times when I am puzzled by what the blogger wrote, and times when the blog seemed to reinforce that concept that God is in control.
    There are times when I wonder about how “reformed” the author actually is.
    There are times that I was frustrated by the politically inappropriate nature of the blog.
    There are times when I shudder to think that the bloggers as professors have so much influence on student thought.
    I will continue to read and challenge my thinking on the blogs content matter.

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