Elijah’s burnout: Lessons to learn for ourselves (2)
In the previous article, we left the prophet Elijah during a significant time in his ministry, that of discouragement and depression. Yet he was on the verge of the most decisive moment of his life: an encounter with God. It is sometimes in our darkest hour that the Lord likes to meet our needs; when we have arrived at the end of ourselves, we surrender to Him, having exhausted all our own concepts and solutions. Whatever situation you may be in now, your God is in control over the events of your life. He alone has the power to transform evil into good. Repent if you must, for grace covers all your sins. He is powerful to do all things for your good, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans (8:28). Faced with his discouraged servant, the Lord does not have a word of condemnation, but an important lesson for all generations of believers to come.
After the grandiose and dramatic events of Elijah’s life, he needed to rediscover God’s will for a loving, intimate relationship with each of his children, including himself. Elijah needed to find a balanced life. The Lord took care of him by teaching him that he has three aspects of his life to work with: a body, soul, and spirit. The first lesson is to respect your body! Learn to rest!
Elijah fell asleep because he really needed it! The Lord let him rest twice. We also need to respect the rest periods needed by our body to give it the time to renew itself. Sleep is essential. Elijah’s problems were often a symptom of exhaustion due to a life of hyperactivity. Elijah needed to find rest for his spiritual insight. Quite simply, his ability to think clearly was affected by the steady stream of business. Our sleep is necessary and must be respected. Though we cannot deny that it makes us more effective in our service, sometimes we do the opposite of what God says. At his hyperactive pace, Elijah could not listen to God. He needed to pause his life, in order to receive from God again.
Perhaps this is also the case for you? Sometimes we can only regain our spiritual footing if we rest. We also need to partake in a true, weekly rest. God created the Sabbath to give us an example to follow. Failure to respect it ignores natural laws that God has established for our body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Failure to do so directly disobeys His Word. Would we be more “spiritual” than God Himself? Our body is the vessel through which we can serve God. What advantage is there for this wonderful machine if we stopped doing what God has commanded? We need a healthy and balanced life including food and exercise. Eat and drink! The Lord used an angel to prepare a cake and a drink to renew Elijah’s strength. He was asked to do this twice.
Why? Think on it, but make no mistake; our bodies are wonderful complex machines that need a healthy and balanced diet.
How do you manage your diet? Do you eat quickly when you get the time? What type of food do you provide your body? Have you lost control of your weight? It is our spiritual responsibility to care for our best work tool: our body? Let us not hide behind the phrase from Paul who seems to say that “exercise is useful for some things” (1 Timothy 4:8). While godliness is profitable to many, exercise is nonetheless useful to stay healthy! Yes, regular exercise is essential to stay active longer… to serve God. My brother, my sister, what are you doing today specifically to maintain the health that the Lord has given you? God instructed Elijah, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you”. What a revelation! The path of life to His service may be long, and we could go on, relying our own human powers, but if we follow His advice along the way, like Elijah, we can be sure that His supernatural intervention will not fail us! God needed Elijah in great physical shape and with intellectual and spiritual insight to be able to understand and receive what He wanted to tell him. May the God who created you, allow you to take the right steps to receive a new revelation for His service in the year ahead.
To be continued…
Eric Vincent DuFour