Sometimes I feel like Elijah. Not in the ‘pull up my robe and chase after chariots’ kind of way but in the ‘crazies are after me and I’m tired of trying’ kind of way. Crazies aren’t really after me, but I can definitely identify with the fatigue of hanging on the end of life’s limb.
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!” -1 Kings 19:4-5
I heard or read something several years ago that stuck with me. “We’re supposed to be ‘fruit’. Fruit doesn’t hug the trunk of the tree, it hangs on the end of a limb.” I’m sure I butchered that quote, or maybe I made it better, but the mental picture is the same. When you picture a heavy piece of fruit hanging by a tiny stem on the end of a swaying branch, it’s easy to understand that wind, sun, rain and lack of water can all contribute to that piece of fruit wanting to just drop and rot in the shade.
Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. -1 Kings 19:5
So many scriptures come to mind when I think of the piece of fruit giving in to come-what-may under that tree. Giving in to death to find life. A valley of skeletons blooming with blood plumped flesh and rising to their feet. God’s strength in our weakness. There are lots of scriptural references like that. I think of those and wonder how long the bones had to lay in the valley.
Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!” -1 Kings 19:5
God has your sustenance in His hands and He dishes it out in the portions you need. It’s not all at once and when you get it, it’s gone in moments. Then you’re left with an empty plate again. You spend more time with an empty plate, figuratively speaking, than you do eating.
He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep. -1 Kings 19:6
Just enough. For well practiced people, ‘just enough’ is enough. But, who actually wants to be well practiced in that? Flesh vs. Spirit. Sustained for another day to practice some more.
The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” -1 Kings 19:7
Doesn’t it make you want to sit there and cry when you see how much further you have to go? Sometimes you can’t even see the end. You’re tired and you’re upset. You have too far to go in any direction and it’s so normal to just curl up and wait for it to all be over. However, you’ve got what you need to get to sunset today, so get up and inch forward. You have nothing to lose by finding another tree a few miles down the road. You can die there tomorrow if you want.
He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. -1 Kings 19:8-9
Forty days and nights. Do you have to earn the right to give up the fight? Like a motor winding down to its last sputter? Maybe it’s not about the goal any more. Maybe it’s not even about survival, but about the home stretch. Earn the collapse.
Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?” -1 Kings 19:9
Seriously? You know that point when all your niceties are tapped? When your politeness has checked out?
“I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. -1 Kings 19:10
He did all He could do and he was running for his life, but now he just wanted it to be over. He failed, so he thought, so what’s the use?
“Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” -1 Kings 19:11
Where are you looking for God? Is it in a flash of lightning or a windfall of provision? He’s poured manna from the sky, what’s He going to do for you? How is God going to show up now?
A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.
When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. -1 Kings 19:12-13
The quiet, patient and piercing voice of the One we’re holding out for. It’s not the hurricane, it’s not the wind, it’s not the earthquake and it’s not the fire. It’s the gentle and quiet whisper of the One who’s going to ask you once again:
“..now tell me, what are you doing here?” -1 Kings 19:13
Elijah is the only person in the Bible who got picked up in a ‘chariot of fire’ that took him to heaven. So don’t beat yourself up too much. He had his pity party, too. Maybe it’s time to stop feeling sorry for yourself. Take a deep breath, grab your bag of ‘just enough’ and get through it.