Hope, Words of Endurance

When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life …
He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade,
wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die:
“Enough of this, God! Take my life—
I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”
Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.

When Elijah hit bottom, he responded the way many of us do. In his battle-weary, despairing state he lost perspective. Discouragement clouded his vision. He focused on the negative and totally dismissed the positive. His immediate circumstances loomed so big that he lost sight of God’s faithful character and sovereign power. The result? He ran as far and as fast as he could – then he simply gave up.

Although Elijah’s perspective that God was in control appears to have shattered completely, God had not changed. We can take comfort in the way God reached out to restore His weary, depressed servant. God didn’t reprimand or reject him. Instead, He sent a messenger to provide food and water to meet his basic needs. Once Elijah was rested and refueled, he and God met for a heart-to-heart talk about the way Elijah saw things. This counseling session is most revealing …

Then the word of God came to him:
“So Elijah, what are you doing here?”
“I’ve been working my heart out
for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah.
“The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant,
destroyed the places of worship,
and murdered your prophets.
I’m the only one left,
and now they’re trying to kill me.”

First, Elijah complained to God that the other prophets had been killed and that he was the “only one left.” Elijah was so overwhelmed that he had forgotten that Obadiah, a prophet and friend of Elijah’s, had hidden one hundred prophets in caves. The two prophets had discussed the covert operation shortly before the showdown on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:13-18).

Second, Elijah complained to God that the entire nation of Israel had rejected Him. God revealed to Elijah that He had reserved “seven thousand in Israel … whose knees have not bowed down to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18). Elijah thought he was alone and he wasn’t alone after all.

Third, Elijah complained to God that they (the entire nation) were trying to kill him. The truth was only one person threatened Elijah – Queen Jezebel. When one is distraught everything appears to be much larger than it actually is.

What Elijah was really saying was “After all I’ve done to serve you – all is lost – all is lost!” This may have been how Elijah saw it but his conclusions about the state of the nation of Israel were not accurate. God knew the bigger picture and knew exactly how to reconstruct the weary prophet’s perspective.

God invited Elijah to unload the burdens on his heart by asking, “So Elijah, what are you doing here?” Next God gave Elijah specific instructions for dealing with the situation before him (1 Kings 19:15-17). He told Elijah where to go, who to see, what to do. He set Elijah back on course – a sure sign that Elijah still had a purpose and God still had a plan.

God didn’t scold His down-and-out servant for his clouded perspective and therefore wrong conclusions. He met him right where he was and addressed his concerns and needs. God showered Elijah with His grace, mercy and guidance.

That same grace, mercy and guidance is available for us. When our perspective gets shattered God wants us to come to Him and share our concerns and needs. Although He may not show up to address them in the same way He did for Elijah – He will show up. It may be through the encouraging words of a friend. It may be through a passage of Scripture that speaks to us as never before or silences a nagging question. Or it may be through a breathtaking sunset that reminds us that God is still in the heavens – still in control – and that the sun will rise again!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me
and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and
you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

On the Journey with You,
Dave & Jan Dravecky


Hope, Shattered Perspectives, Words of Endurance

Immediately the fire of God fell
and burned up the offering,
the wood, the stones, the dirt,
and even the water in the trench.
All the people saw it happen
and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming,
“God is the true God! God is the true God!”
1 KINGS 18:38-39 (THE MESSAGE)

The scene atop Mount Carmel must have been spectacular. The people of Israel and their evil king, Ahab, had gathered to witness the showdown between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:16-40). God, the God of Elijah showed up in a heavenly fireball! The people’s response was no less dramatic. The false prophets were killed and the people repented of their idol worship.

After the decisive victory, Elijah was elated. Nothing could stop him. He ran 17 miles cross country to be present when Queen Jezebel got the news that her beloved prophets were no match for the living God. That, however, was when good news turned to bad. Instead of repenting, Jezebel had a death threat hand delivered to Elijah!

Elijah’s mood plunged from the exhilaration of the mountaintop to the chasm of despair on the valley floor. The Bible doesn’t tell us what went on in Elijah’s mind when he received the life threatening news. It only tells us that he, the great prophet who had been used by God to orchestrate one of the most dramatic spiritual confrontations in history, turned tail and ran!

He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all – to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life!
I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!”
Exhausted he fell asleep under the broom bush.

That’s an unusual victory speech! Why the sudden change? Apparently Elijah, a man of great faith, momentarily lost perspective. Why else would he flee from one lone woman after defeating 450 men? Why else would he be so discouraged after such a great victory that he would ask God to take his life?

Exhaustion, stress, unfulfilled expectations and fear are just a few of the experiences that can lead to a loss of perspective – no matter how spiritual we are or what Spiritual victories we may have amassed. But we can find comfort in knowing that giants of the faith lose perspective and become discouraged too. Elijah’s response (1 Kings 19) to a crushing loss of perspective provides helpful insights for dealing with our own perspective issues.

He sought solitude. Elijah got alone with God. After receiving Jezebel’s death threat, he went off by himself “a day’s journey into the wilderness.”

He was honest with God. Elijah didn’t hold back his true feelings. “Enough of this God! Take my life”

He rested. Elijah didn’t fight his body’s response to stress and exhaustion. He took care of his need for rest. “Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.”

At times, we may find ourselves in a similar state of mind as the prophet Elijah. One moment we’re standing tall on the mountaintop. We’re certain that God is with us, working for our good in the midst of great adversity – cancer, divorce, financial crisis or whatever trial we face. Then, before we know it and when we least expect it – everything changes. Our perspective shatters and we don’t recognize the landscape at all. Our circumstances don’t indicate that any plan might be in place – much less a good plan with a good outcome. Our expectations are dashed. We grow disillusioned and weary. Our perspective shatters.

But thank God we don’t have to stay in that place. We can survive the plunge from the mountaintop to the valley floor . With God’s help – because He is with us in both places – we can reconstruct a perspective that enables us not only to see the mountaintop but to stand upon it!

The distance between the mountaintop and the valley floor
can be quickly traversed.
Yet God’s children who make that journey
discover that God is in both places.

On the Journey with You,
Dave & Jan Dravecky