Yesterday at church the pastor taught from I Kings 19. He talked on how Elijah ran away when his life was threatened — he ran away and hid in a cave. He let one person place fear in his heart and instead of seeking the Lord, he hid.
And when God came to Elijah He asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:9). The Lord wanted to know what Elijah was doing, He didn’t ask why Elijah was there — after all, the Lord already knew that. He wanted Elijah to think about what it was he was doing.
And so God called him out of the cave, not once, but twice. The first time Elijah was too scared to come out, but the second time, although still hesitant and with his cloak over his face, Elijah emerged at the gentle prompting from the Lord. And when asked by the Lord a second time what he was doing there, Elijah gave the same answer, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me…”
God doesn’t pat him on the head and tell him how sorry He is, God says to Elijah, “Go back the way you came…” and gives him further instructions of what He wants Elijah to do.
God is saying to Elijah not to be afraid, for when you follow My lead and what I would have you do, man cannot hurt you. Do not be afraid of what has happened, go forward and live through your faith.
God doesn’t want us to run away from life and hide in a cave, He wants us to listen to His voice and leading, and step out in faith doing what He has called us to. Don’t hide your gifts and talents, don’t hide your faith — get out there and live it. Don’t hide because some around you may doubt you, want to hurt you, even curse you — God has your back and God is much, much bigger than any person.
I’m an expert at letting fear get in my way of living my life to the fullest, whether it be living out a dream He has placed in my heart or just living in the moment of each day. I often allow people and circumstances to send me running into a cave, because isn’t it often easier to just hide out? It just feels too hard some days, too tiring to keep moving forward, doing what you know the Lord would call you to do. But after a while how boring and stale it gets in that cave I’ve holed up in — closed off from others, not doing anything for fear of failure or getting hurt.
Yet, it’s in these moments when the fear rushes in, pesky doubts overtake my thoughts and hurtful words course through my very being, that I need to listen for the soft, gentle whispering of the Lord — the whisper calling me out of the cave. God will lead us — He will stay with us, even waiting patiently outside the cave for us to emerge, perhaps calling our name two or three times until we finally step out.
Something I have learned over the years — and seem to have to relearn occasionally because I can be a slow learner at times or maybe it’s just that I easily forget the lessons taught from the past — when I feel like hiding out in my cave letting life close in around me, those are the times I need to step back from it all and allow myself to just rest in the Lord. Now I’m not saying that I stop doing everything and just sit on the couch, hardly realistic. Resting in the Lord is about giving all our worries, cares, concerns, hurts, whatever is starting to back us into that cave and make us want to run away from life — giving it all to Him. And through doing so we get rest, the rest He promises us. (Matt 11:28).
And that is exactly what God did for Elijah — He took care of him. After Elijah ran away fearing for his life and before he entered the cave, he sat down under a tree and cried out to God. He didn’t want to live anymore and Elijah prayed for God to take his life because he’d had enough, life had become too hard. But God didn’t just leave him there under that tree to die, He fed him and gave him rest. He strengthened him. And God does that for us when we call out to him, when we say we’ve had enough He feeds us and gives us rest. He cares about us and where we are in our lives. He desires for us to have peace and rest, but He also expects us to go on living, living for Him without fear of man.
Some days are just hard though, aren’t they? We may feel overwhelmed, lost or just feeling a little out of sorts. And in those times, thanking God for what He has done in our lives, being grateful for what He has given us, can help to turn those feelings around. For when we focus on God and the blessings He has brought into our lives, it keeps our eyes focused upward instead of being downcast.
My gratitude list:
#200 – the smell of rain
#201 – baking chocolate cupcakes for her son’s birthday party
#202 – friends that step up at the last minute
#203 – a kiss good-bye from her husband at 3:00am
#204 – watching an old tv show late into the night with her son
#205 – sounds of her oldest son playing his guitar
#206 – 18 birthday candles glowing in the dark kitchen while a chorus of “Happy Birthday” is sung off key
#207 – feeling safe and secure in a healthy marriage
#208 – renewing of old friendships
#209 – a lazy Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch with her husband watching a movie
Where are you today? Are you finding rest and being fed through the Lord? Are you huddled under a tree wanting to give up? Are you crouching in a cave hiding from the world? Wherever you are today, allow God to give you rest, feed you, and take care of you.