Are you burned out? Straight up stinking tired? Exhausted from all the effort, all the work, all the pressure, the stress, the expectations, all the time, and you feel like you just have nothing left to give?
We’ve all been there. Some of us are there now. Trying to drag our butts through another day when we’re just so over it all. We really just want to quit. We really want to hide. We really want it all to go away, and if it doesn’t go away, we’re ready to go away.
Did anyone ever run away as a kid? I did. I was in my early teen years and I had an argument with my parents. I was convinced they were ridiculous, I was right, and if I ran away they would be sorry. So I slammed the door behind me and I set out on my march of freedom. Then I realized it would soon be getting dark, we lived on a windy country road where all kinds of creatures lived, and I was immediately regretting my decision. So, I did what any hot headed 15 year old girl would do … I sat down on the side of the house and I ugly cried. I couldn’t even run away right.
Minutes later I watched as my parents loaded up in the truck, tore out of the driveway and barrelled down the road looking for me. They failed to see me sitting right by the house. When they returned and found me sitting there, I never admitted I had really never left. Mom invited me back in the house for a little snack and my own comfy bed.
I never ran away again, but there have been times I felt like it. I felt like running away from my problems. Running away from the messes. Running away from all that was going wrong. Giving up, because dang, things can be so hard sometimes.
There’s a story in the bible about a man named Elijah who was a prophet of the Lord. A man who wanted to run away from everything. A man who was overwhelmed and giving up. We’re going to learn from him today and apply it to all the areas where we are burned out, where we don’t want to try anymore, where we are frustrated, overwhelmed and want to quit.
Elijah was guided and directed by God. He received clear instructions continually, and was used in marvelous ways to do miraculous things. A great drought fell on the land for years, but God directed Elijah exactly where to go.
1 Kings 17: 2-6 “The word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Notice a few things things here. Elijah DID what the Lord told him, and he STAYED there. When Elijah did what God said and stayed where God had brought him, he was provided for.
Oh girls, have we been doing what God told us to do? Have we stayed were he told us to go? Or have we grown lazy? Have we grown restless? Have we strayed when we should have stayed? God provided in the exact place he told Elijah to go, and without fail, God will provide for us in the exact place he tells us to go.
Then it happens again for Elijah. The brook where he had been camping dried up because of the drought, so then God told him where to go next. He told him of a specific town where he had already instructed a widow to care for him. Sure enough, Elijah goes to that town, and there he meets a widow who cares for him. Now remember, in this home is where God used him for a miracle to revive the widow’s son who died. We talked about that a few weeks ago. Remember, the mother had to stand outside the door while God did the miracle. Sometimes we have to trust God to use someone else to do what we so desperately need.
So let me tell you, Elijah is on a God high here. He is being super-naturally guided by the Almighty, he is being used for miraculous works, and he knows for sure it is God working in and through him. That’s chapter 17. Chapter 18 Elijah sees God make fire and use him for more mighty acts of power. Woohooo, we are on a roll here!
But then we come to chapter 19. Elijah was being threatened and he was afraid. He went from total guidance and provision by God in chapter 17, seeing God’s miraculous power around him and through him in chapter 18, to boom … next chapter verse 3, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. He went by himself to wilderness. He came to a bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life.”
This is Elijah, the prophet of God, giving up. This is him reaching his limit, tapping out, and saying I am done with this. And we know this feeling don’t we? We know these thoughts. I’VE HAD ENOUGH!!!!
But here’s the awesome thing. God didn’t take his life. He didn’t punish him for reaching his limit. You know what he did? He let him take a nap. Then you know what he did? Verse 5 tells us an angel of the Lord came and touched him and gave him a snack.
For real y’all, I’m not making this up. Elijah was so mad he wanted to die, so God let him take a little nap and have a little snack.
I’m telling you, our God is awesome!
So here you are, in your hissy fit of wanting to run away from everything, and God says “hey girl, why don’t you just take a little nap and then we’re going to have a snack, then we’ll work this all out.”
You know what happened after Elijah’s nap and a snack? God restored his strength, gave him his next mission, and he set out for victory. Elijah didn’t stay down. He didn’t stay depressed. He was restored, renewed, and reinvigorated for his purpose.
What I find interesting is how Elijah came to this place of giving up. If you read 1 Kings 17 and 18, step by step, God tells him exactly where to go. Each time Elijah goes, he finds God’s miraculous provision and his next assignment. But in chapter 19, God didn’t tell Elijah to go to the wilderness, this was of his own doing. He ran to the wilderness because he was afraid. He found shelter under a scrubby bush instead of under the Almighty.
Have you been running because you’re afraid, and now you find yourself in this desperate place where you don’t want to do this any more? Are you trying to find your security under your job, under your husband, under your title, under your talents, under your possessions? Girl, that’s a scrubby brush in the desert and that will never do! You need shelter from God!
You don’t belong in this wilderness, and you don’t belong under that scrubby brush. God wants to lead you back to your purpose! How about a little nap and a little snack, then let’s get back on plan!
There were many prophets in the Old Testament, but Elijah is considered to be the greatest. Isn’t that funny? He’s the one who was so mad he just wanted to die. He was so disappointed he wanted to give up. He was so burned out he wanted to check out.
But this didn’t define him …. and girl, this will not define you!
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve quit. I’ve thrown my hands up and said “Lord, I’m done here, use someone else.” But somehow after a little rest and a few meals, God has always brought me back and realigned my attitude for my assignment.
Can that be your prayer today? Lord, realign my attitude for my assignment. Don’t let me give up while I’m giving up. Don’t let me stop here even though I really want to stop here.
Allow me to introduce you to a phrase that has helped me through some of my strongest “I’ve had enough” moments: THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
Training for my first marathon, on mile 11 of a 20 mile training run where my feet were already bleeding, I learned to says “this too shall pass.” I knew if I just kept running, my finish line would come and my current misery would pass. And it did. Every single time, it passed.
So for my sister who is at her breaking point, ready to run off to some wilderness and hide under a scrubby tree, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. 2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
It won’t be this way forever. Set your mind on things beyond this. Don’t allow your disappointment to become your only focus. God has always brought you through, and he will bring you through this. Don’t go running off, stay right where God has brought you, do what he last told you to do, and stay right there until he guides you to what is next.
You are going to be okay. God will guide you through this. If you need a nap and a snack, have a little nap and a little snack, then be ready to get up and get back on track with your attitude aligned for your assignment.