Storms can knock the stuffing out of us.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Elijah and the storm he faced on Mount Carmel in I Kings 18. He came to the end of himself after his great victory when the prophets of Baal were defeated. After that event he found himself running for his life from Queen Jezebel. She was determined to have his head after he killed all of her idolatrous prophets.
After running for his life, Elijah sat under a tree, ready to die. His exhaustion caused him to forget the faithfulness of God. He was cranky, tired, and hungry and he worried about Jezebel coming to get him. So God sent an angel with some food to restore him. The state of his soul was in disrepair, and he needed to sleep, eat, and get some perspective so he could start trusting God again and stop worrying.
Elijah was just plain tuckered out and wanted to be all by himself. Maybe that’s why he left his servant. He wanted to be miserable all alone. He had been working day and night for God, and all the emotional energy he gave at Mount Carmel defeating the prophets of Baal did him in.
The words of Queen Jezebel elicited fear and doubt, and he decided to tell God he had enough. You notice the Lord didn’t respond to his lament and request to end his life. Instead, God sent him something to eat to strengthen him. Not once but twice in between Elijah’s naps. When the storm takes more than we bargain for, God knows what we need.
He doesn’t beat us up and whip us to get back out and serve. “He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:14 NLT).
Sometimes to gain a fresh perspective in our lives is to do as Elijah did.
Take a nap.
In other words, take care of ourselves.
God probably chose not to answer Elijah because He knew he was at the end of his reserves, and no amount of convincing would stop his whining until he got some rest.
This holds true especially when we are battling the wind and waves in a storm. We have to recognize when we are at the end and pay attention to our warning signs of being completely done.
When Kevin and I were in the darkest part of our storm, the one statement my counselor and those I was accountable to asked me over and over again, “What was I doing to take care of myself?” I was so caught up in trying to withstand the battering waves that I would forget what taking care of myself even looked like because I was so emotionally exhausted.
I don’t think it has to be all that complicated. We can use this story of Elijah as a basis for creating a checklist of what we should do when we find ourselves on the edge of having a meltdown and being done.
- Don’t leave your friends behind. Though we don’t know the reason Elijah left his servant behind, it’s never a good idea to isolate ourselves when we are in a storm.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously when you are empty. ?When you are tired and have pushed yourself past the point of no return, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Your emotions can run away, causing you to worry, fear, and have a pity party. Bundle it up, speak it out, and then let it go.
- Take a nap! ?Yes, you heard me. When we are sleep deprived nothing works well. We have to make space in our lives for our bodies and our minds to restore.
- Nourish yourself. ?When I am stressed out to the max—I know this will sound weird—I forget to eat. When I remember, or ?my stomach reminds me, I don’t always choose the best foods. I am working on it even as I am walking through some stressful days the past month.
Seems fairly basic, doesn’t it? Sometimes we make the idea of recharging too complicated. We think we have to run to another country, sit on a beach, and do nothing for two weeks. I am not trying to be too simplistic here, but I believe much of our exhaustion could be thwarted if we paid more attention to our soul and what it is saying to us. Our physical bodies and our emotional and mental states are all connected, and we would be wise to listen.
Once we have gone through the checklist, we then can discover what the voice deep inside of us is trying to communicate and put ourselves in a better place.
Excerpt taken from: Anchored: Leading Through the Storms
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Find out more about being anchored in the storm. www.cynthiacavanaugh.com/anchored/