Leaving the Cave

My last post left with me ranting about the state of a world I don’t understand and me wanting to hide in a cave somewhere. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over that impulse, the wombat and I are still in negotiations. However, after my wife “encouraged” me into leaving saying I was being self indulgent and negative (I have chronic depression, waddaya expect?), anyway, I left.

Besides, I thought of Elijah on Mt Horeb. If you don’t know the story check it out, it’s a good read. Basically, God’s prophet, Elijah had just had a big victory for God on Mt Horeb where he confronted King Ahab and the prophets of Baal (the Royal families official religion). He showed them up as being fake by showing God’s power and their inability. While the King was cowed a bit his wife was a bit more put out and put a death warrant on him. Seeing that his victory hadn’t really changed anything, Israel still worshipped Baal, the King still wanted him dead and no revolution had come, Elijah ran.

He was wrecked, what was the point of all that. Where were the people who cheered him on after the demonstration? More to the point, where was God?

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?” 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.” 1 Kings 19:9‭-‬10 NIV

Finally, after running a hundred and sixty kilometres he falls down emotionally and physically exhausted. When God sends an angel to him the first requirement was get up, eat and go another four hundred kilometres. Not what I’d want to hear.

Then it gets better. Collapsing in a cave, he meets God and lays out his fears and complaints to Him and God doesn’t even answer! Instead God lays out more things to do.

The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 18:15-18 NIV)

So what does this mean? Well, for me it meant that coming to God with your problems and expecting Him to all of a sudden make things “better” may lead to frustration. God gives what we need not what we think we need. For those of us who have been in the pit like Elijah there are some key points when we look at how God dealt with him.

  • God required Elijah come and meet Him. This doesn’t remove grace or mean God was being insensitive. It just means if you want God to step in, you need be prepared to meet Him on His ground not yours.
  • God didn’t answer His complaint straight away. He cut through the self-focus told him to get back in the game. Sometimes we do need to rest and get ourselves together but the end result is to get back into the life God has called us to live.
  • He promised help. Elijah was feeling isolated so God provided Elisha, not as a crutch but as a student and companion. Isolation leads to self-absorption. The best way of getting past this is to look for ways to give and serve others.
  • Finally, When all this was done, God finally answers and corrects Elijah’s view. “Your wrong, it’s not hopeless. Your depression has clouded your view. Here’s what’s really the deal.”

So that’s why staying in a cave while there’s a mess in the world cannot be God’s intent for me. He wants me in the places where I serve others and need Him. Not protecting myself but letting Him look after me as I love others. So, I guess for now I’ll lease out the cave and take life as it comes, one moment at a time with my God.

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