Get Up

1 Kings 18-19 tells the story of Elijah the prophet at Mt. Carmel. He was challenging Baal’s (false god) existence by taunting his priests. The end result of the challenge was an unprecedented miracle of Elijah’s God (Yahweh) putting to shame Baal and his priests by the burning of the altar that was saturated with water. On the heels of that incredible event was the return of rain to the drought ridden country that Elijah had prophesied about three years earlier. There was no mistake as to who the Almighty God was.

Today, I want to focus on what happened to Elijah after being used so mightily by God at Mt. Carmel. We learn that Elijah was a man, with all the frailties and the challenges we also face in life. As a dear counselor friend one time, said to me, “welcome to humanity Richard,” when I was sharing how shocked I was by the trials that I was facing at that time. There are those times we all need a reminder that there is a God, and we are not Him. We don’t control our world as much as we think we do.

This story tells us about Jezebel, who was the wife of King Ahab. She was a wicked queen and with her fierce energy she extended all efforts to destroy those who opposed her. When she learned of what had taken place at Mt. Carmel with Elijah and the priests of Baal, she sent Elijah a message. (1 Ki.19:1-2) “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” This incredible, courageous man of God lost all sense of confidence and ran away to escape Jezebel’s cursing declaration. Obviously, Jezebel’s announcement overwhelmed Elijah’s soul, his mind and emotions. Elijah probably knew many scores of righteous prophets who had met their death at her hand. Maybe the pictures of their faces were rotating through his mind. This information would cause anyone to run and hide from this treacherous queen.

The story goes on to tell us that Elijah ran into the wilderness and sat down under a broom bush. This thick bush in bloom was known as a place that provided safety and shelter. In his state of panic, he commenced to pray to God that he would die. “I have had enough, Lord, he said. Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors.” Where did that come from? When in this state of mind, like Elijah, we may slip into the same, thought distortion traps and succumb to defeating thoughts and actions like…
1.  Focusing on past failures.
2. Pushing gratitude and thankfulness aside.
3. Comparing ourselves to others, and we are the loser in the comparison.
4. Our fundamental worth and value are minimized or disappear all-together. Self-confidence       slips away.
5. Feeling all alone, everyone has abandoned us, and we feel stuck in our lostness.
6. We question who we really are.

These hopeless thoughts are overwhelming and if given place, we will drown in our self-pity.
Now what? Elijah’s gut-wrenching prayer was certainly as transparent as it could be. He kept hearing voices over and over again, deafening voices, of no hope, no chance of survival screaming at him, “you are doomed.” He had lost all sense of confidence and faith in the God who had performed so many miracles through and around him. How could he possibly be in such a state of mind?

Like Elijah, we may have witnessed God sized miracles and our list of things we are grateful for has no end. But every once in a while, we find ourselves under the broom tree and exhausted. Our self-talk and prayers are very desperate. Yes, desperate is the right word. It may feel like a person drowning and struggling to grasp anything to keep them afloat.

1 Ki.19:5-9 - God saw Elijah’s state. He knew more about him than Elijah knew about himself. None of what had happened, to date, caused God concern. God was not watching from heaven, wringing his hands wondering how He was going to save Elijah. The first thing God did was send an angel to take care of the essentials in providing food. Then God said… “get up and eat.” Of course, God had the power to physically stand Elijah up and even supernaturally nourish him, but He didn’t. The angel said, “Get up and eat!” Elijah had to do something. When his heart was overwhelmed with fear and his body was exhausted from running, it had to have been hard to tell himself… get up!

In order to receive God’s provision, our first step is “get up!” You don’t even need to know what the next step is, just obey and get up! This is an act of spirit over soul, not mind over matter. Invite and allow the grace of God (His favor and empowerment) to help you do what you feel like you do not want to do or have the strength to do.  God’s grace provides the enablement to do what we cannot.

Many times, throughout the Book of Psalms, David recognized the condition of his weary heart. He asked himself the question, “Why are you troubled and cast down O my soul? Hope thou in God! “(Ps.42:11) He knew the truth, but his emotions and feelings dictated his actions. Hope in God! Hope is the bright expectation for tomorrow. Reading the Book of Psalms, especially the Psalms pinned by David will provide encouragement and hope. David tells it like it is. He too was a man who had his tortuous days of exhaustion and deep turmoil.

God has given every person volition, the ability to make choices. A dear friend, Maureen Christiansen, who has gone to be with Jesus, used to quote… “God gave us life, a determined amount of time on earth and a free will to make choices to enrich or diminish our time on earth.” Just like Elijah, we have the ability to make the choice to get up just as he did. The angel provided fresh baked bread, still on the coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank and laid down again. The angel came to him again and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you. So, he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went to a cave and spent the night.” It was here that Elijah had an incredible encounter with God. He heard God’s voice in the most uncommon way. His purpose as a prophet was restored, and once again God used him for eternal purposes.  His first step was “Get up!”

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