Elijah’s burnout: Lessons to learn for ourselves (3)
After taking care of the physical needs of Elijah by providing food and rest, the Lord led his servant in a long journey that led him to Horeb “the mountain of God”. For forty days and forty nights he was sustained by the “cake” prepared for him by the angel of God. This is a pastry that we want to try, too. The word “Horeb” means “dry”. Elijah experienced a dry period in his relationship with God. Not that the Lord left him, but he was “burned out”. He had exhausted his human resources. He was discouraged and unable to see beyond the present hopeless situation. Hyperactivity, even in the service of God, can be a headlong rush, a loophole to avoid facing deep problems that scare us and seem too painful to deal with. It only hides our problems, gives the fragile illusion of “all is well”, but does not solve anything. On the contrary, when our physical and emotional forces are telling us “STOP” that we often find ourselves stuck in this place that we had been constantly avoiding. My brother, my sister, in your walk with God today, do not be imprisoned by discouragement or fear. It is a place where the Lord speaks to his children. Away from the flow of business, isolated in His presence, God wants to reveal Himself to us and teach us Horeb is the place where God reveals himself like the burning bush was to Moses, God revealed himself when Moses had abandoned all hope of being of service. God ordered Moses to strike the rock to give water to drink to the thirsty rebellious people. Elijah, the prophet, having witnessed great events and adventures of extreme faith, had become so addicted to the adrenaline of being under constant tension, that he found he had forgotten some key aspects of his God. Gently, in the cave, the Lord asks him the question “What are you doing here Elijah”? Far from the experience of sending down fire from heaven, Elijah is met by the grace and tenderness of the Creator who will listen to his version of events, his loneliness, his despondency. And, when he had finished, invited him to stand before him to receive His answer. What delicacy in the way God deals with his wounded servant. There were no complaints of “you should have” or “ you did not”. What a lesson in psychology from the creator of souls. He knows that Elijah cannot carry any load at this time, as the Lord does not extinguish the smoking flax, but takes care to rekindle the flame. Once outside, Elijah waits in silence for God to speak, echoing the advice of Ecclesiastes (5:1-2). At that point, a strong wind, an earthquake, and fire will pass before him. Why? Because these signs were all manifestations of the power of judgment and divine holiness that Elijah had witnessed. But this time, none of them carried the message of the Lord for him. The lesson was elsewhere, in the still small voice. Elijah learned that God’s approval is not only expressed through in demonstrations of power, but also in an intimate personal relationship. In his healing a new dialogue is established between the prophet by the Creator. He met the love of the Savior.
What is the lesson for us? We often try to “channel” God in our “boxes” or designs that we want to control. This limits our opportunities to learn and question. An old Indian on the way to the reservation said one day to one of the soldiers who forced him to move constantly, “you must let us stop to give a chance for our souls to join our body”. We also need to realize that we frequently need to stop. We are a living soul. We must recharge a true intimacy with God. We must replace our system of values, which are often corrupted by the surrounding culture with His eternal truth. To do this I would like to propose an experiment.
Would you be willing to put aside one hour per week, taking nothing with you, no music or songs of praise, but just a notebook and pen or pencil? There, quiet or quell your habits and your prayer requests and rediscover the lost art of remaining silent before God. Silence your thoughts and let God speak to you. What is the risk? Like Elijah, you are looking to receive a new revelation for your life.
Eric Vincent DuFour