Rest and Renewal
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
1 Kings 19.7 NIV
When I think of the prophet Elijah from the Old Testament I think of his confrontation with King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. If you do not know the story, it is in 1 Kings 18 and is a pretty fantastic read as far as contests of the gods and calling fire down from heaven are concerned.
This passage marks the highlight of Elijah’s ministry, when he is finally able to prove to the Israelites that Yahweh is the only true God. It was his big move, his last shot, his end-all moment. And it worked! Sort of.
He successfully proved Israel’s idols where false gods on Mount Carmel, but when he arrived in Jezreel he found they simply did not care. They refused to turn away from Baal, and even the Queen of Israel sent him a message saying she had made it her personal mission to kill him.
Immediately following the highest point in his ministry up until that point, Elijah was met with stalwart rejection and threats so severe he was forced to run for his life. This was such a blow that he decided to just give up. He let his servant go, wandered in the wilderness, lay down under a bush, and prayed for God to take his life.
I often feel this is the nature of addiction recovery. I have worked and worked until I finally experience a moment of fantastic victory that makes the seemingly endless struggle worthwhile. Then something happens and I fall into sin again. On the back of such a triumph, this fall devastates me all the more. I have had moments in my life that left me in a state of mind quite similar to Elijah’s.
What is there to do in those moments? What did Elijah do?
When Elijah lay down to die, an angel brought him bread and water and told him to eat. He did, and then lay down to sleep. The next day, the angel brought him food again and told him to eat. Once he had eaten again, he traveled to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. There, Elijah rested again, voiced his frustrations to God, and then God finally spoke into Elijah’s frustration and disheartenment.
Eat. Sleep. Retreat. I think we sometimes forget our own humanity and expect our bodies, minds, and hearts to function with minimal maintenance. God does expect His people to recover from addiction, turn away from false gods, and live out His purpose, but He also knows full well how difficult that is and that sometimes we just need a long rest, a good meal in a nice restaurant, and a slow walk through the forest. Only when we are ready will He tell us what is next and how to get there.
Until then, let’s go get some soul food.
Contributor: Jordan N.