It's crazy how the mind can paint its own picture based on the words we speak or how we feel. For example, when we are depressed, our mind congers up a sort of dark void in which we visualize ourselves in. You never hear of anyone trapped in a gazebo of despair. It always dark, cold, alone, and with no visible way out. When we begin to ponder on words like loneliness, emptiness, fear, shame, misunderstood: we can literally feel ourselves in that dark and empty space I’m speaking of. You can probably see it now. To make matters worse, we feel guilty that we go to that place or that we can picture it so vividly.
Can I tell you something?! You’re not alone in this place and if asked, each one of us would raise a hand or two, maybeeven a foot. Not only are you not alone in this room, but the Bible also recalls men of faith finding themselves in this self-made void.
Let me take you to 1 Kings 19: 1-13 NIV:
1. Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4. while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5. Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6. He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7. 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.” 8. So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10. He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
11. The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
This setting of Scripture takes place after one of the greatest feats of God’s power was displayed for all to see (See 1 Kings 18). This was a great high in Elijah’s life. What proceeded would cause him to put himself in the void I was discussing. How do we know this?! He prays in verse 4: "while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then when the Word of the Lord came to him, He replied in verse 10: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Him saying “I am the only one left..” wasn’t true but when we paint ourselves in our darkest places, we often feel we are the only ones there. And talking on dark places, Elijah went and found a dark void, literally and slept there. That’s what I call commitment.
After reading this story and meditating on it, I found three things that we need to look for while we're in the "dark" and things that stuck out to me.
-Even while Elijah was stuck in this mindset, the Lord feed him for his journey to the mountain.
-His hand guided him even in his despair.
-We think that the cave is a punishment when it may actually be God’s will. Darkness is the perfect place to reveal light.
-The hand of God leads us even when we don’t know we’re following it.
-God lead you here for a time and a purpose.
-In the dark and stillness is where we can see and hear God the loudest.
-God could’ve easily told Elijah where he needed to go without him ever going to the cave, but the cave was needed to shift Elijah's mindset.
-God’s response to Elijah up until this point were in fire and miracles, but He needed him to understand the whisper was as powerful.
-When God ask “What Are You Doing Here, Elijah?!”, He was asking where his heart was, not him physically.
-The voice of God can come in at different volumes, all of them matter.
-If we seek out the fire and the earthquake, we miss out on the blessing of the whisper.
-A whisper is intentional.
-A whisper is intimate. You have to be close to whisper to someone.
-I am thankful for the whisper of God that let me know He was as far as the mention of His name! He could have answered me with fire or with vengeance, instead, He let me know that no matter how low I fall, who’s here or who isn’t, no matter the thing or person that got me there, His whisper of grace and mercy followed me into the caves of my life.
3.God’s Light (Presence):
-When we adjust our eyes to see the Hand of God and to hear the Voice of God, we’re able to see His light in the darkness.
-When Elijah heard the whisper, it caused him to go to the mouth of cave.
-After Elijah went to the light, God was able to direct him to where he needed to be.
-Elijah’s eyes needed to be adjusted in the cave so the light of day wouldn’t blind him.
-When we adjust our eyes in the cave, the light and presence of God causes us to see clearly and not become blinded with fear and anxiety.
-After He told Elijah where to go and what to do, He told him in verse 18." Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
I don’t think God brought this up to scorn him, but to give Elijah hope that even though there were those out to kill him, God still had an army of prophets and believers who were still faithful. You’re not in your struggle alone. There are those battling the same fights you are or have battled what you have.
So I ask: What Are You Doing Here?!
-What are you doing in relationships that make you feel less than, worthless, ugly, or alone?! Jesus saw everything you were, would be, or would ever do, say, or think, and He thought you were to die for. You are a beautiful, valuable child of God who has wonderful gifts and talents that are going to further the Kingdom.
-What are you doing in an addiction that keeps you trapped to who you were and lies to you saying you can’t break free because you’ll never be better than what you are?! The Bible tells us in John 10:10 NIV “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”
And in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God longs for you to have a life free of shame and condemnation and full of His love, peace, and joy. It is not God’s will for you to stay in bondage, but to be loved, forgiven, and made into a new man just like Jesus. His plan is for your struggle to become your testimony to bring others out the darkness and into His marvelous light!
-What are you doing in mindsets that keep you from going any further in your relationships, goals, and dreams?! Those goals and dreams were put in you by the Maker so that you can show His glory as you pursue your passions. It’s not His desire to see you stuck and frustrated or shoving you dreams to the side, never to be seen again. Your talents and abilities with God can shine out to the world, bringing people to know Him even without them ever stepping foot in your church or home. Are you thinking, "If you knew what I’ve done or who I was, no one would listen to me or give me the time of day because of my past." Well, you’re in good company. But that’s the beauty of His Presence, it makes us new and free from the chains of our past mistakes and mindsets.
What Elijah didn’t realize and what we can fail to realize is this: His cave experience was also his mountain experience. Our lowest points can also be our highest if we adjust our eyes to see the Hand of God, our ears to Hear His Voice, and our hearts to walk into His Light and into the bright future His has for us.
That's all from me this week. I pray each one of you has a blessed week and we'll see you next time!