Hi, I’m the new guy on the Asbury Staff Team and it’s my turn to share today’s blog with you. So, I thought I would take the liberty to assume that my need is also your need, that my area of spiritual growth is similar to your area. I’ve been finding myself in a spiritual struggle over the last couple of years much like that of Elijah’s at one point in his life.
We read about it in the Old Testament (1 Kings 19) where we find Elijah experiencing what is not so unique among those who try to follow God. After some incredible works done with God on Mt. Carmel, as recounted in 1 Kings 18, Elijah is then on the run in chapter 19. Queen Jezebel is out to get him. She has vowed to kill him after what happened on the mountain when God, with Elijah, defeated the false prophets and destroyed their pagan altars to the god Ba’al. No sooner had Elijah come down from that mountaintop experience with God, he flees – fearing for his life. Elijah has traveled 200 miles away from his home and his calling and now finds himself hiding out in a cave, full of self-pity.
There is no one else left in Israel proclaiming the Word of the Lord, he says. All the other prophets are gone, he says. His is the last, solitary voice for truth, righteousness, and the reign of God, he says. Jezebel is out for blood, he says. Elijah is distraught, disillusioned, and deeply doubtful. The picture of the all-powerful God that he serves doing great things in him and through him now seems distant—a solitary occurrence in an isolated chapter of another life.
Now the weight of his solitary, isolated predicament weighs upon him like an anvil crushing his chest. He is physically, emotionally, and spiritually stuck in his cave, and God comes to him with a still, small voice saying, “Elijah, what are you doing here?”
What are you doing here hundreds of miles from where I appointed you be? What are you doing here on the run? What are you doing hiding from Jezebel and even from Me? Didn’t you do great works in My name? Didn’t I speak through you and change lives? Didn’t amazing things happen in your midst just back there on that mountain? What are you doing here? What are you doing in the place of Doubt, Discouragement, and Depression?
Perhaps, like me, you have experienced a disruption and you have been as discouraged as you’ve ever been in your life – disillusioned by the institutions you thought you could trust. Despondent by the tragic outcomes that were anything but what you had anticipated.
What are you doing here in the place of Discouragement? If that’s where you find yourself today, let me recommend that you remember Whose you are. You are His. The Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all things. The King of kings and the Lord of lords. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You are spiritually privileged. He has promised never to leave nor forsake you, even if it feels sometimes like He has. Take heart today.
Perhaps like me you are doubting everything you thought you knew, doubting your talent and skills, your intelligence, your calling, your feelings, doubting your ability to care for those things for which you are most responsible. To you and to me God says, what are you doing here in the place of Doubt?
After all, you are God’s creation. You are His own child called by His name and you have a life mission that has not been revoked. He loves you with an everlasting love that supersedes our human failures and institutions, painful events and deep disappointments. You are a trophy of God’s grace. Scripture says “I am not my own; I was bought at a price”—the blood of Jesus. You are a child of the true living God. Take heart today.
Perhaps, like me, the compounding of several tragic losses or events (some the result of your choices, some maybe not) has led you to a place of Depression. You used to want to roll out of bed every morning and get to the important work of changing the world for the better. But now you just want to roll over, jaded and without motivation. Perhaps you’ve neglected needed exercise and proper nutrition and it has taken its toll on your health.
If that’s where you find yourself today, what are you doing here in the place of Depression? Let me recommend that you remember How to be. You are the temple of God’s own Spirit. So often we get so busy doing for others that we forget to take care of ourselves. The first thing God has Elijah do is exercise and eat something good. He has to take care of himself before he is any good to others. It may be that we need to see a doctor or counselor to help us get on the right path physically or emotionally, even spiritually. Perhaps you need to prioritize Sabbath weekly, retreat monthly, and vacation annually. Take care of yourself or you will burn out. Remember, HOW to be, not just do.
Here is the profound truth that I have had to learn in my own time in the cave – God is not through with me yet, even though I believed otherwise. I will just bet that God also is not through with you. I know that where God guides, God provides. He has not taken you on the journey thus far only to abandon you now. This is what Elijah found as God brought him full circle and fulfilled his calling.
Yesterday was my birthday, so naturally it’s a time to reflect on my life. As I challenge myself on these points following a season in the cave, I also challenge you! If you find yourself in a place of discouragement or doubt or depression, remember Who’s you are, Who you are, and How to be.