What Are You Doing Here?

When the prophet Elijah received a death threat from Israel’s queen Jezebel, he fled the country. For forty days he journeyed until he reached Mt. Horeb, where he hid himself in a cave. But there God spoke to him and asked simply, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:1-9).

What are you doing here? That question might sug­gest different things depending on how it is asked. It might mean that someone is in a place where we didn’t expect to find him. It might indicate that someone isn’t where he should be — or that he is where he should not be. It could even suggest that someone is in the right place, but not doing the right thing. God asked Elijah this question to make the prophet realize that he needed to be somewhere else, doing something else.

Well, what if the Lord were to pop the same question to you? What if, at any time, He could ask you — out loud — “What are you doing here?”

Would the question find you in a place where you should not be? A liquor store, bar, or nightclub (1 Peter 4:3)? The “adult” section of the video store (Matthew 5:27-28)? A movie that glorifies im­morality? An unsu­per­vised teen party? The horse track? The casino? The line for lottery tickets (see Ephesians 5:5)? The bed of someone who is not your spouse (Hebrews 13:4)? Would the question find you caving in to temptation? Willfully placing yourself in its path? Or doing your best to avoid it (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:22)?

Would the question find you absent from a place where you should be? Do you let otherwise good things be­come a curse by keeping you from your responsibili­ties? Fishing, hunting, golf, ball games … service clubs, community projects … homework, house­work, yard work … These things are right and valuable in their proper place. But they become abominations if we let them keep us away from duties like work, family, worship, hospital­ity, and service. If God asked, “What are you doing here?” could you answer, “Seeking first the king­dom” (Mat­thew 6:33)?

Would the question find you in the right place, but still out of place? If the Lord asked you this ques­tion at a worship assembly, for instance, might His voice indicate some surprise at finding you there? Do you find such gatherings tedious and boring (see Mala­chi 1:13)? Are you in the habit of forsaking them (He­brews 10:25)? If the ques­tion found you there, what would you be doing? Keeping up appear­ances? Show­ing off a new outfit? Trying to please your spouse? Would you be like those in the riot at Ephesus who “did not even know why they were there” (Acts 19:32, NIV)? Or would you be there to worship and grow (1 Corin­thians 14:15,26)?

What if the question came to you at the workplace? Would it find you squeaking by with as little effort as possible? Dealing dishon­estly? Stealing inventory or office supplies? Seeking to selfishly pro­mote yourself? Putting money above more important things? Or would God’s question find you giving an honest day’s work to sup­port your­self and your family (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thes­salonians 3:10)?

No matter where you may find yourself, pause to consider your purpose. Ask, What am I doing here? Am I where the Lord would have me to be, doing what He would have me to do?

Every single day God asks, “What are you doing here on this planet?” He knows the answer: He put you here to serve and glorify Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Are you?