When Coming Back is Harder Than Starting Out
This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: BACK
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It's been awhile since I've written here. More than a year. I've been wondering why? What caused me to stop sharing?To stop communicating what God has been doing in my post-divorce life?
Sometimes I think we get so tired inside that we can't even recognize it. We don't even see the ways we're run down. The ways we aren't functioning how we used to. Not processing life the way we once did. Even when God does big things and shows up for us in miraculous ways, it doesn't ensure that our next steps will be to continue on in the work he has set out for us. We can't even be sure our faith will increase through those answers to prayer or subtle ways that God walks alongside us.
Elijah experienced huge things from God along his journey (1 Kings 17). After informing King Ahab of the coming three year drought, He was given bread and meat by ravens and drank water from the brook until it dried up. Miracle one. God then guided him to stay with the widow and her son in Zarephath where a handful of flour and a little oil lasts much longer than possible. Miracle two. When the widow's son dies- God resurrects him right in front of Elijah. Miracle three. Finally Elijah calls down fire from heaven to prove to the prophets of Baal that God is the one and only true God. Miracle four.
And yet in 1 Kings 19:4-8 (ESV) Elijah flees into the wilderness and becomes depressed and withdrawn. He cries out to the Lord:
But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, "Arise and eat." And he looked and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, "Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you." And he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
Elijah was tired and the Lord let him rest. Elijah was deep down overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the recent events he had both witnessed and participated in. He needed a break. He needed to be fed by God and recharged with His strength and in God's further purposes for him. The strength God provided in those times of rest was enough for Elijah to be fed for forty days and forty nights all the way to Horeb- the location of his next task.
Sometimes we have to go slow to go fast. Work smarter- not harder. Be conscious of times when it's best to step back and refocus. Renewing our vision and purposes is not wasted time. Crying out to the Lord to feed us and strengthen us for the journey ahead is not foolish, but wise.
When we first start out in our calling it's easy to go full-steam ahead and never hesitate. In fact, we're often told that if we aren't "all in" then maybe our faith is lacking. Perhaps we don't really trust that God walks alongside us. But in truth, God honors those who seek his life-giving manna for each day. Those who know when it's time to slow down and when it's time to speed up. To engage and to rest. God knows when the journey is too big for the moment and when it's time to move again.
It's hard to come back when you've stopped, but Elijah listens to God's command to rise up and journey to Horeb. But his fears are still with him. He hides in a cave and once again God comes to prod Elijah along by asking him repeatedly what he is doing (1 Kings 19:9-18) and encouraging him to continue in the work he is called to.
What tough work are you facing? Is it time to rest and recharge or is God prodding your heart to move ahead? Sometimes it's harder to get going again, but God will see us through the work he has called us to. No matter how insecure or intimidated we may be by our calling, God knows it's the only place where we truly commune with him in faith and worship. Continue in that good work today friends or start where you left off and see where God takes you.