I don't believe that my paralysis is totally due to a break in fellowship with God, because that's when I find myself praying harder and seeking more fervently. I realize something is amiss but I cannot grasp what is actually the problem. If I am not careful, I can let myself slip into discouragement and depression. I get into a funk! I find myself withdrawing from fellowship and crawl into a hole. It's a battle for my mind and ultimately my heart.
Elijah was such a man! He spent some alone time under a juniper tree. Paralyzed! Discouraged! Lonely! What was it that led him there? Let me encourage you to stop and read the story of Elijah if you are not familiar. (Click Here for 1 Kings 17-19)
- Self sufficiency - "I" itus
- Spiritual & mental exhaustion
- Physical exhaustion
- Diet of Satan's lies
In 1 Kings 17, Elijah's story begins with him hearing from the Lord and doing all that God required of him. Throughout, we find Elijah consistently hears from the Lord and is obedient to His word. "After a long time, in the third year" (as indicated in chap. 18:1) God spoke to him yet again with some hefty instructions. Notice Elijah's comment in 18:22 "Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men." I'm thinking this is his first slip up! Commentaries debate on whether he is actually the last prophet left alive or whether he is the only prophet (with everyone else still hiding in caves) brave enough to confront and stand firm. Whatever the case, I find that he considers himself alone (we're never alone with God!) and perhaps has a small case of "i-itus." He has been so busy working for the Lord that maybe he considers himself as the "only one that can do anything around here!" Ever feel that way? No one else can do it quite the way you can or with the expertise that you could bring! After all, you've been doing it for a long time and are pretty good at what you do. Yep, i-itus has grabbed you and your a little bit proud of your work history...I alone!
In 18:27 we read of the mighty prophet calling down fire from heaven. Imagine 450 prophets of Baal as Elijah taunted and made fun of them. And as he built the altar and called on the name of the Lord God, Elijah prayed and God answered. The people believed and the prophets of Baal were seized and slaughtered. As Ahab was celebrating, Elijah climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel for prayer. I believe that he was spiritually and mentally drained. Elijah had been obedient to the Lords call and was up against lots of opposition. Not only that, but he probably felt considerable pressure as the last of God's prophets. (18:22) If you have done any kind of ministry, you know that there is a certain amount of spiritual drain that accompanies it. I think Elijah was also experiencing some of that.
He had been busy doing just as the Lord requested...for all these years... and considered himself zealous. He was on the mountain top...literally, at Mt. Carmel! When his work was through there, he ran to the valley of Jezreel. Notice verse 46The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. This was about 16-17 miles, running faster and harder than horse and chariot! I'm sure he was physically tired!
I believe one of the things that led Elijah to be paralyzed, unable to move forward, was his physical exhaustion! I find that when I am overly tired, my armor is no longer girded. I'm so weary that I fall into a metaphoric ditch and have a hard time climbing out. I let the enemy kick me down. Dropsy sets in. If you are driven like me, you grind and grind and grind until you literally cannot go any further. It's that balance issue again! You've worn yourself slap out and you are no good for anything and nobody wants to be around you because your so grumpy! It's hard to rest when you feel like you need a REST so you can rest! Get my point?!
Once Elijah got to Horeb, he received word that Jezebel was going to kill him, just has he had killed the prophets of Baal. After all the amazing ways that God had used Elijah and shown Himself faithful, Elijah decides to loose heart and is afraid. He runs! He has reached a point in his life where his focus has turned away from God and on himself. In verse 4 we find him sitting under a juniper tree praying that he might die. He has had enough and is feeling sorry for himself! I'm sure he has started feeding on a diet of lies that Satan began to deliver. Elijah has had enough, he has worked hard, His self worth is depleted as he compares himself to his ancestors. He has reached a place in his heart where he can go no further. He has tasted some self-sufficiency, He is mentally, spiritually, and physically tired. The enemy swoops in when he is weak and begins to play with his emotions. Dropsy! He lies under the tree and falls asleep! Depression and paralysis makes you want to close your eyes and cover your head.
I love the next few verses! (vs. 5) Our sweet Lord, all at once, sent an angel to encourage him to get up and eat. He had provided hot bread and water. Nourishment for his body! Rest for his soul. My physical need often needs to be met before other needs. Yours? Then the angel came a second time, reminding him to get up and eat and showing compassion states that the journey is too much for you. In other words, He was encouraging him to eat more and nourish himself for the long journey ahead. When we are in a state of paralysis, tired & weary, we must remember not to neglect nourishment provided by the Lord. He is not finished with us, yet! We need to be feasting on the promises of God. That is where we find our hope.
~ John Piper
2 Peter 1:4
And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Stand on these promises, claim them as your own. Write your own list of promises from the Scriptures and pull them out when you find yourself sinking low. Be mindful of your work for the Lord. Build in times to let your soul breathe. Beware of depleting yourself for that is when the enemy strikes the hardest! Feed on God's promises not Satan's lies. You will find that you can move through the "PigPen cloud" of taunting tasks without them overtaking you. It will soon dissipate and fall under your feet and your heart will be lifted up and filled with joy!
Click the picture for tickets! Early bird rate ends Oct. 21