When the Journey is Too Much for You (1 Kings 19)

Photo Credit: Elizabeth M

Photo Credit: Elizabeth M


 
There are times when faith seems like a sturdy house, and other times when faith seems like the tiniest rowing boat, lost in an ocean of uncertainty. This week, my social media timelines are full of people feeling overwhelmed, either by life or by faith.
 
If you are ever looking for good Bible verses for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you need to jump straight to 1 Kings 19 – Elijah running away from his people, his mission, and even God.
 
One minute Elijah looks like the most secure believer on the planet: one chapter earlier he was calling fire down from heaven in front of the whole country. The next minute, he is running away, alone into the wilderness, begging God to take his life. He has given up: he just wants to die.
 

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 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.”” (1 Kings 19:3-4)

 
Sometimes this happens. We are always surprised when doubt and lostness afflict the strongest Christians, but we shouldn’t be. It’s right there in the Bible: God’s chosen mouthpiece to a corrupt generation, the prophet Elijah himself, had freaked out.
 
We all know the bit where there is a fire, earthquake, and finally a whisper where God speaks. What we don’t know so well is the part in between the fire from heaven and the whisper from God. Before Elijah can encounter God, he must make a journey to Horeb. The trouble is, he’s in no position to be making a journey. Instead, he falls asleep.
 

“Then [Elijah] lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”  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.
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 19:5-7)

 
Too weak, physically and emotionally, to do anything else, Elijah gives up ministering and is ministered to. He sleeps. An angel comes to him and feeds him, “for the journey is too much for you.”
 
Sometimes even the journey towards meeting God is too much for us. There is a long pause in between the despair and the restoration.  It is the space in the wilderness. It is at those times when we need angels to minister to us; we need sleep, food, sustenance, nourishment. We need space, quiet, room to breathe, safety. We need to receive, because we have nothing left to give.
 
After his food, Elijah then has to travel another forty days and nights before he meets God. Elijah’s break was short, but for some of us it is longer. However long the pause in the desert, is it worth remembering that like Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus, the wandering in the wilderness precedes the revelation of God.
 

“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.” (1 Kings 19:8)

 
Today I am thinking of those who are spiritually exhausted; who feel abandoned by God, but can’t even travel towards Him because the journey is too much for them.
 
For you, I pray for angels to minister to you, for sustenance, safety strength. The journey is too much for you. Sit awhile, and be fed.

 

Spiritual sustenance will look different for everyone, but here are some angels that have helped me in the wilderness:
 
Memoir: Addie Zierman – When We Were on Fire; Micha Boyett – Found; Rachel Held Evans – Searching for Sunday; Amber C Haines – Wild in the Hollow; Sarah Bessey – Out of Sorts
 
Miscellaneous Theology: God On Mute – Pete Greig; God Behaving Badly – David T Lamb; A Praying Life – Paul E Miller
 
Art: Faces of Christ: Jesus in Art – Jane Williams
 
Poetry: Night Cycles – Beth Morey; Malcolm Guite
 
Music: Gungor; Taize Chants
 
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Tweetables: 
 
[tweetit]”We are surprised when doubt and lostness afflict the strongest Christians, but we shouldn’t be.” – @Tanya_Marlow[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”Today I am thinking of those who are spiritually exhausted” – When the Journey is Too Much for You – @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”Wandering in the wilderness precedes the revelation of God.” When the Journey is Too Much for You – @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
 
[tweetit]”We need space, quiet, room to breathe, safety.” A meditation for those who feel overwhelmed – @Tanya_Marlow:[/tweetit]
 
Over to you: 

  • What helps you when you have felt overwhelmed? Who are the angels that minister to you in the desert?
  • Why do you think we are so surprised when those Christians who look the strongest are also those prone to burn out?

 

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