Remember being little and having that impatient rumble in your gut for Christmas morning? That “I can’t wait feeling” that overrides every other emotion you have in the course of the day? Every thought floats back to that one thing. When I grew up, I kind of thought getting over the childlike excitement about Christmas would be the last time I would have to go through “gut pinch.”
What a disconcerting reality to find out that feeling arrives again in life in many different forms, such as waiting for the mortgage company to contact you and let you know if you qualified for the mortgage, waiting for a company to call you back and notify you that you got the dream job, or waiting for the nurse to call with news of the doctor’s report. The loop we find ourselves in when the wait is upon us can be torturous.
As I’ve grown and matured, I’ve realized there’s a kind of wait I find to be much more growth-provoking than any wait I’ve ever endured. It’s the wait for change! Change in a marriage, change in a child’s attitude, and change of healing or restoration—waiting for God to come through during change is the kind of wait that filters out all immaturity that prevails within us.
It causes us to examine the deepest of thoughts and commitments. Is He good in the wait? Is He good if He doesn’t answer the way I have asked? Is He good if He disappoints me? Oh, wait, can we even say that in the Christian community? Does God disappoint?
I have come to learn that there are times that we run into a cave of questions and emotions! Just like Elijah the prophet on the run from Jezebel in a cave on mount Horeb. I would love to share a teaching on this whole thing, but for today I want to focus on the feelings Elijah may have struggled with.
I remember having a conversation with a friend and the more we talked, the more I became aware of some deep-rooted feelings I was filtering through but wouldn’t dare say them out loud! I had mentioned that I could sum up an entire season of my life in one word: Disappointed! That was easy to say! Who hasn’t been disappointed? However, the longer I lingered, the more I realized I was hovering around a question I was afraid to examine. Was I disappointed in or with God?
Was saying I was disappointed in how things turned out or what I was going through and how long it was taking God to intervene just code for being disappointed with God? We often run from what we need to face because the truth of what we may find is far too hard to view. I think this is when we see God confront Elijah in the cave. One of the things I love about God is He is so comfortable with who He is and HIs own greatness, that He can ask the questions we could never ask for fear of the answer.
He asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Well, wait, let’s back up and look at what Elijah was doing there. The story goes like this: There was a woman named Queen Jezebel whose sole goal was to kill the prophetic voice on the earth, and subsequently kill all the prophets who carried that voice. Jezebel had the support and legal backing of her husband, Ahab, and a company of prophet killers who were doing the job successfully.
While Elijah himself had a reputation for being a pretty powerful man, news that thousands of prophets had been murdered was more than Elijah could make sense of.
This is the conversation I want to have before we go on. The timing of the trial and the nature of the “waits” we find ourselves in. Hit me with uncertainty at the right time when I’m strong and confident and girlfriend, I’m good. You’re not taking me down! But connect with a pain at the wrong time, a time when I have been through a few previous issues, a time when I’m just not ready… and it may run me into a cave! Nobody is strong all the time, ladies! Let’s stop fooling ourselves and attempting to fool those around us. We can be taken down!
That affair your husband had, that addiction your kid is struggling with, that illness … there are so many challenges we never dreamed we would face. How about, “I’m still single,” God? Or I helped my husband get through college only to be replaced by a chick ten years my junior when he starts making real money! The list goes on. Who prepares us for a suicidal child? Worst, who tells us how to manage the feelings of incompetence we feel as a mom and a woman when those types of issues plague our life? No one! Absolutely no one.
We are NEVER prepared for what those issues come with. It’s a lingering stink that no amount of perfume will cover. The questions you ask yourself about life, God, and the future are too scary to look at honestly! I mean honestly! Now, if you’re that kind of girl that is going to come to the table and say things like, “I have never questioned God,” or “I have never wondered things too scary to put words on,” this probably isn’t the blog for you. But if you’re the girl who is ready to keep it one hundred, you are all in!
I know exactly what ran Elijah into that cave! Elijah was God’s man! He was willing to run through the wilderness, face bears, ridicule, and be put to the test. His connection to God was tested, and he crushed it all! With all that under his belt, Elijah was a man with power from God that was made evident time after time. What would cause him to be on the run from a woman and a word?
You got it. Disappointment, stress and straight exhaustion! Have you ever wondered, “I have served you, God. I’ve been as faithful as I know how to be and yet I am in this situation?” I think sometimes we run so close to God, are used by God, and our prayers are answered so quickly that we are ill prepared when things come out of the blue. When we are blindsided by life and our enemy! In those moments, we are hit with such pain we want to give up! “Thanks, but no thanks, God. I can’t endure another blow and keep on ticking.”
God meets Elijah in that cave and says, “Why are you here?” After a series of encounters, God reassures Elijah that he is not alone in any capacity. He is not alone! Now, you should know that God allows Elijah to anoint Elisha, whom he mentors and teaches so he can finish his work and prepare for retirement. Also, again there is so much to this story that I haven’t done it justice! The thing I want to point out in this message is: as powerful as Elijah was, he faced a challenge that ran him into a cave! It wasn’t the biggest challenge of his life, but at the core of this particular challenge, it touched him in a way that made him question everything!
I want to talk about that place of questioning! Yeah, I know you’re a strong girl, but I know what it feels like to be in a cave questioning everything! WHY AM I HERE? To wonder if your mental health needs a professional, to question your spiritual life and relationship with God, to face the reality that you may not even know who you are anymore? It’s all on the table, and yet not one of those questions has summoned an answer. God is asking, “WHY ARE YOU HERE?”
What if I told you there are some challenges in life that just require time, self-care, and real long talks with God to sort out? Not every episode in this chapter of your life is going to be clear regarding the deep revelation about the season you’re in. Nor is there a testimony that reassures the onlookers that you’re “truly” strong and “spiritual.” Here’s what I know and love about this story: Elijah is in a cave, y’all! He doesn’t know at the time that he is in a cave and the world is looking to pick apart the message and preach an applicable sermon.
Nope, he’s alone (or thinks he is) collecting his soul and his thoughts, answering the hard questions, being asked the hard questions, and figuring out where he goes from there.
I think that’s at least a point that demands addressing in this story of Elijah’s cave encounter. With all we do as women, kiss the wounds of our kids, take on the role of cheerleader for our husbands, absorb the pressures of life for our loved ones, lend an ear of compassion for our girlfriends when life kicks them in the gut, it’s no wonder why there are seasons of life that a challenge hits you at the right time and takes you down!
Girlfriend, give yourself a break! This cave doesn’t have to be a cave of shame! Girl, Rest! Talk to God and let Him fill your soul! Figure out why you’re there and begin the steps to dig your way out in an appropriate time. First, eat some good food, have a drink, and rest! Be ministered to by God before you create a message out of your mess! You’ll arrive on the outside of this cave, but what if the wait you’re cursing is the wait that produces the answers that will elevate your soul to a place of abundance?
Ok, there’s one of those words everyone uses, and no one has the same meaning for. Our working definition of abundance is simply a “place of plenty!” Nothing lacking, nothing broken! Hidden within abundance is the expectance of Enough! You are enough, you have enough!
It’s in the cave that Elijah finds out he wasn’t alone at all. He had enough, he was enough, and he will be enough. In fact, God had a reserve of people that hadn’t deserted Him nor His work. Elijah found out that God had his successor already planned out. He found out while in that cave that God is still his provider and comfort. The challenge that has run you into a cave may reveal more about life, God, and you, than any other life experience you will find yourself in. You’re so much stronger than you think!
One last word. Let me leave this little “pick me up.” If you think God orchestrated this terrible challenge you’re facing to get you alone with him, think again. Every GOOD and PERFECT gift comes from our Father in Heaven! The enemy you face is the one who plagues our lives with despair! God is our hope! Because He is, you can hope!
He doesn’t need to place terrible circumstances in our lives to get us alone, but he sure will use them to show us how deeply he cares for us. He will turn those horrible events into opportunities for prosperity and enlightenment!
So, the next time you find yourself at a place that you just can’t hold it all together anymore, where you just can’t face the light of day and you are on the run into a cave, get there! That’s right, find yourself a cave and rest! Let yourself be restored, renewed, and revived! Girl, Rest!