Don't Quit

1 Ki.19:1- 9 Tells the story of Elijah running for his life after receiving a death-threat from Queen Jezebel. In exhaustion, he sat under a Broom Bush to rest. An angel appeared to him, took care of his physical needs, and then gave him the instruction to “get up” and continue on his journey. After traveling forty days and nights he reached the Mountain of God, called Horeb. He -spent the night in a cave.

Verse 9 “And the word of the Lord came to him: What are you doing here, Elijah? He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too. The Lord said, “Go and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn crown your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.” The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu Son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as a prophet.  Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel- all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.?”

Like Elijah, when we are in a place where we feel terrified the temptation is to do what Elijah did, run. After all, can you blame him? Even though he knew that he was chosen and anointed by God to be a prophet and a leader, he was very much a man. All the emotions we experience, and all of the same kinds of questions run through our minds as did through his. Elijah was in shock! He reacted with the typical responses of fight, flight, and freeze. Can you imagine the trail of thought processes he traveled on? Why would God allow this to happen to me? What have I done to deserve all this? God, did you not notice that I have given you everything, and I am running for my life?  In fact, God, have you not noticed that I am the only one left in this battle of righteousness on earth? When in these deep places of hurt, confusion and fear, we cry out like Captain Kirk in the TV series, Star Trek. “Beam me up Scotty!” Like Ziggy, the cartoon character, says…. “God, I know you said the meek will inherit the earth, but in case you have not noticed it, we are getting creamed down here.”

It is interesting to me that God made an enormous show of power to Elijah in the unprecedented wind, earthquake and fire. I think God got Elijah’s attention and let him know who was in control, don’t you?

I do not know why all of this happened to Elijah. I do know that Jezebel did not get her way and God got His. I do know that somehow God gave Elijah supernatural strength to “get up” and keep going. He could have ignored or disobeyed God’s instruction, but he didn’t.

Maybe today you have feelings similar to Elijah’s. Maybe you are plunging to the depths of self-examining, or as I call it, naval gazing. Maybe self-pity is deepening and attaching roots in your overwhelmed mind and heart. It is absolutely alright to ask God what is going on? After all, the greatest Bible Characters did. It is human to be fearful and want to run. At some point, all of us have to stop, take off our track shoes, regroup, and listen to what God is saying. You might need to find a cave, a place not to live in, but to rest and catch your breath in order to move on. Caves come in all styles, models and decor.

Some years ago, my friends and I had shot a moose in Alaska.  We were packing this eight-hundred-pound moose, one piece at a time, out of the woods to a camp a mile or so away. I had already made several trips carting this treasured moose meat back to our rustic camp. I remember on one of the last trips, through the dense brush when, I felt like I couldn’t take another exhausted step. I was done! Nearby there was a fallen dead tree. I perched myself on it with the meat pack securely fastened to my back. Normally, I would have popped the shoulder and waist strap latches on the pack and let the meat fall to the ground in order to recoup my strength. Not this time. I sat on that log, loosened the straps of the pack and let the weight transfer to the log and then readjust the straps. I then ate a candy bar (probably Almond Joy) and drank some water or juice. As I sat there, I realized that my old way of resting from a weight was to drop it and shuffle around in a circle to catch my breath and then go through the whole routine of putting the pack back on, adjusting straps and crawling up to a kneel position in order to stand up and stumble forward. We do not have to go to extremes to get relief from our backpack weight.

Here is my profound advice. Sit on a log or find a cave.  Sit down and catch your breath. Readjust the straps of the pack, drink some water, and most of all, eat a candy bar, after you have prayed of course. ☺

In the last devotional titled “Get Up” I quoted the Angels words to Elijah in this same story, Get Up! Today, I am giving you the next set of encouragements. Stop, rest, readjust and re set. Please but keep going! You will be okay. Your heavenly Father is paying attention to you, watching over you, interceding for you and He will carry you through life’s storms. You have a purpose; an assignment from God which will never realize if you give up and resign yourself to hopelessness.

God will give you the grace (undeserved favor) and strength to keep going when confusion overwhelms your mind, and nothing makes sense. God may not speak to you right at the exact time when the horrifying winds come and shatter the rocks around you. He may not speak to you while the earthquake is shaking to pieces, literally, and maybe even through the flames of the fire. But that does not mean He is not there and paying attention to you. “Just because the tide is not in, does not mean there is no water in the sea.” Life is full of ebbs and flows just like the ocean tides.

God asked Elijah the question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah responded with his justification reasoning. Notice that God responded to him with, “Go back the way you came.” He then gave him the instructions of his next assignment.

Sometimes, like in this story, God’s instruction comes via a gentle whisper. It is my belief that God’s voice comforted Elijah and his fears dissipated.  His strength was restored, and He was in a good place and could get back to doing what he was created to be and do.

We don’t know the concluding details of Elijah’s encounter with the Lord. We just know that God’s purposes were accomplished. Elijah anointed a new king and set in place a prophet. In the process of this event, God reminded him that he was not alone, there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed their knee to Baal.  God is so much larger than our current situation. He has not stopped being good. He loves you and He is always good. He has been faithful, and He will continue to be faithful to you. Please don’t quit! You have work to do and the God will give you the grace to do it!

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