I Kings 19:5-9 (Message) When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep. The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?”
Are you walking in the wilderness today? Perhaps between relationships, jobs, churches, or right smack in the middle of a life change? The rushing wind of the pages turned to the next chapter can often thrust us into the deserted plains of the wilderness. It is isolating. Lonely. Wandering turns to wondering. Our face turns back to the past to find a missed step or wrong turn when it is God our Father and His Spirit in us that has led us to such a place. Fighting off the predatory emotions of fear, doubt, discouragement, disappointment, devastation, and even the guilt, shame or regret of failure – it is not a pleasant place for even the strongest of souls. Weariness and burnout from striving to please God or people cause exhaustion to overtake us and the need for rest creates separation. Oh friend, I feel you today. I sincerely do. No matter what brought us to this place there is new hope here. There is water in the wilderness.
Elijah was done. “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Are you done today? Just ready to throw in the towel, give up, give in or just walk away. Elijah walked straight into the wilderness. Life was just too difficult. He had had enough. He asked the Lord to take his life. He was not being metaphoric but rather literal. Elijah was overcome and wanted to end it. He fell asleep. Often over-exertion and exhaustion will skew one’s perspective. It turns minors into majors and makes it feel like things will never change or get better. It is important as a Child of God to understand the importance of rest. Physical rest. Mental rest. Spiritual rest. Selah is a real pause for real people.
The vehicle that will expedite one’s arrival to the wilderness is doing. God did not call us to do but rather to become. Drive and determination are human qualities that are exhausting apart from faith and hope. You can never produce the results that will prosper your soul giving you a rich and satisfying life apart from Jesus Christ. The moment our dependency shifts from God to another source – it results in a power failure. Christians are most susceptible because pleasing God will often create influence in others that can stroke one’s pride and cause us to do things God did not call us to do. Obedience will not kill you. The blessing of the Lord comes with no sorrow added to it. His Commands are not burdensome. Look it up. God will send us to the wilderness for an opportunity to reconnect to the ultimate power source and put us back on course.
Fear makes one feel forgotten in the wilderness. Doubts feeds us the lie that God has forsaken us. Regret and shame partner to keep us there with the bondage that we did something wrong or are not good enough to have the life that God has promised. I just can’t do it. Well, no you can’t. That’s the point. What is important to note in the story of Elijah is that God did not chasten, discipline or punish his wayward prophet. He welcomed him. The Lord allowed him to rest. He fed him. He cared for him. He protected him under that broom tree. God did not send you to the wilderness to die. You are there because He wants to renew, restore and revive you. It could be that you are headed in a new direction. The destination does not change. Destiny is secure. We must learn to trust the Lord to lead us where it is He promised to take us. Loss of control is the death of self. The only thing that must die in the wilderness is pride which will allow us to trust Him more.
The Lord will speak to us in the wilderness. He asks, ““So Elijah, what are you doing here?” God knew exactly why he was there. God was opening a conversation with His Beloved Servant. I do not believe that this was as a parent may interrogate their disobedient child, but rather an invitation to talk about how Elijah was feeling and what he was thinking so that the Lord could encourage him. Revive him in spirit and soul for the next leg of his journey through this life. God wants an intimate and ongoing conversation with you. He loves to just talk things over. He longs to speak new life and new inspiration to you. You are His Child and He loves to encourage you to do greater things in Him and through Him. Who doesn’t want the best for their children? God will give divine direction to you in the wilderness if you listen for His Voice and come when He calls.
The wilderness is a place where we have been. It is a place we are going. It represents places in our journey when the Lord is ready to restore, revive and renew us from the inside out. It isn’t a pleasant place or even a destination that anyone ever wants to go. It is a wasteland where somethings must die but God makes streams in the desert. Faith and trust will be our companions during such times that will birth new trust and dependence on God that will give more weight to the anchor of our souls marked hope. There is water in the wilderness, friend. We must only look for the Rock from which water flows.
Isaiah 43:19 (NLT) For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.