“. . .Arise and eat—because the journey is too great for you.”
I Kings 19:7b
Even when we’re down, the Lord will meet us there and remind us of Who He is and how His Grace is sufficient for us (II Cor. 12:9-10).
Elijah was depressed.
Down-and-out. Feeling all alone. Wishing he were dead (v.4).
Not too many hours before he’d been standing atop the 1,742’ high summit of Mt. Carmel calling down fire from Heaven and taking out 850 false prophets (18:36-40). But, now, here he is. . .sitting beneath a juniper tree, which was also known as a “broom tree” and was a dense, leafless, brushy bush that grew to around 12’ tall. . . “requesting that he might die and saying ‘It is enough! Now, O Lord, take away my life—for I am not better than my fathers” (v.4b).
The bravado’s gone from his voice, replaced by a mournful, melancholy-mist melody.
And, the “fire-calling-down” faith in his heart has now given way to fearful fretting and dark, dismal doubts.
His “lying down and sleeping” (vv.5a, 6b) and lack of eating are also tell-tale signs of depression. But, thankfully, God dispatched an angel to come and “touch him, telling him to ‘Arise and eat’” (v.5b). And, thank God he was persistent, instructing him to do it again after he laid down again and resumed sleeping (vv.6b-7a).
How wonderful to read the angel had prepared something to eat and drink for Elijah (v.6a). Isn’t that just like our Lord? Even though His Heart is grieved over our faithless and wayward ways, He still comes to us where we are, revealing His desire to commune with us and lead us where we need to be (cf. Jn. 21:1-13). Glory! What a loving Savior and Lord is He!!
But, we should also notice the reason for the renewing refreshments:
“Because the journey’s too great for you.”
We should always remember God’s provisions are always for equipping us to better serve Him. Although the distance from the juniper tree to Mt. Horeb—also known as Mt. Sinai and “the Mount of God”—was a journey of “40 days and nights” (v.8), the real journey was a moving into a deeper understanding of Who God is and a strengthening of Elijah’s faith.
Dear Pilgrim, mountaintop experiences are wonderful. Through them we catch a greater glimpse of God; yet, like the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration that day (Mt. 17:1-9), we cannot pitch our tents there and stay the rest of our lives. We must come down. . .back down into the valleys. . .where the people are. . .and minister in Jesus’ Name.
And, sometimes, that “coming down from the mountain” also brings a “coming down” in mind and spirit. Mountains and valleys always accompany each other. Although lofty peaks and idyllic views are much more preferable by most, some of life’s most beautiful flowers (e.g., lily of the valley) grow in dark, damp places. And, it’s in those valleys—even “the valley of the shadow of death”—that we discover anew the One Who gives us strength for the Journey.
June 9, 2011