If the Colorado weather is good, I go hiking about three times a week. As an introvert, I need time alone to recharge. I often encounter refreshing periods with God during these adventures. But if I'm not careful, when I'm experiencing some type of pain or rejection, those treks into the mountains can cause me to slip into the shadows of isolation, rather than gravitating toward community.
In 1 Kings 19:1-15, Elijah did this very thing when he ran from Jezebel who wanted to kill him. During his fragile moment, Elijah separated himself. But as he contemplated his predicament, a ministering angel came to him with food and water to strengthen him for the journey back. The angel nudged Elijah and told him to "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much."
How often I've said to God, "This journey is too much."
Thankfully, the Lord sends me community, spiritual brothers and sisters who touch my heart and speak into my life. Their encouragement restores the health of my soul and it's a great gift to me in times of trouble.
So now with renewed vigor, Elijah heads out to Horeb, the mountain of God. While holed up in a cave for the night, God speaks to him rather frankly, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Elijah attempts to explain how his zeal and passion for God got him in trouble. But God isn't deterred. He eventually lays it all out for Elijah, telling him it's time to stop this AWOL junk and step back into real life. Elijah obeys and continues in a fruitful ministry. Meanwhile, Jezebel ends up dying a horrible death, never to torment Elijah again.
More than once, I have seen God make my own enemies suddenly disappear. I've looked around and they are just gone, by one means or another. God's loving care for us is sometimes like a momma bear. We should pray for the one who tries to stand between us and the Father.
Do you find yourself isolated and forfeiting nourishment from your friends and family? Have you holed yourself up in the cave of despair or bitterness? God says, "What are you doing here?"
Whether it's a lost job, ignored talent, a broken relationship, a failed ministry, or something else, it's time to get up and eat. God invites us to leave the darkness of our cave, reestablish godly community and take a bold step into His presence. Breakthrough is realized when we respond to the voice of God and resume the call that is set before us.
Read more about Elijah and other individuals in the Bible, who experienced times of failure and times of deliverance.
*Inspired by a sermon by Daniel Rolfe, Mountain Springs Church, Colorado Springs