"Go back the way you came… "

"Go back the way you came… "

“Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’ The LORD said to him, ‘Go back the way you came, … .’” (1 Kings 19:14-15).

Go back the way you came.

I have no doubt that this is God’s message to me today. Perhaps to one or two of you as well. Thus, a moment of unpacking it with you if you, like Elijah, are…

  • exhausted from the well-fought battle against Baal on Mt. Carmel;
  • weary from trying to outrun Jezebel;
  • worn out from forty days and nights of wandering toward the mountain of the Lord.

Exhausted, weary, and worn. Anyone? So much so that you’re willing to say, “I’ve had enough, LORD… take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Modern day translation? “Even so, Lord Jesus, come and rescue me from my misery.”

I know. A hard truth to admit, perhaps even shameful to some of you. But I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve had a few days in the last 365 days when, like Elijah, the span between the pain that I was feeling and the peace of God’s mountain seemed insurmountable. Too far away. Too long in coming. Too high a climb. Too much of a requirement for the feeble flesh that holds my inward parts together. Times when the weightiness of the load that  I was carrying led to my collapse and my “Enough, Lord.”

Who of us hasn’t felt the chasm between our earthly pain and God’s heavenly gain?

I wonder about the motive behind Elijah’s trek to God’s mountain. Perhaps he came for clarification—for the defining purpose behind his next steps. Perhaps to be heard. Perhaps to claim “safe sanctuary” or to cry out “Base!” as I so often shouted as a child during a game of neighborhood tag. But just today, I thought about something else. About another reason for Elijah’s run to Mt. Horeb. Could it be that the memory of Moses’ ascent to Mt. Nebo was running through his mind as he came to God’s mountain? When God called Moses to the mountain, Moses made the climb knowing that he would not return to the valley of God’s people (see Deut. 32:48-52). Moses came to Mt. Nebo to die; perhaps Elijah came to Mt. Horeb with hopes of doing the same. Perhaps Elijah was ready to go home … to be removed from his struggles and to be at rest with his Father.

God had other plans for Elijah. God has other plans for me, and if you’re reading this today, he has some further plans for you.

Go back the way you came. As hard as it seems, go back the way you came.

Back to the desert. Back down into the valley where Jezebel lives. Back to the forty days and nights of having to depend on God to fuel your heart, your thoughts, and your stomach for the ministry season yet to come. There’s more work to be done. More people who need the witness of your story. More strengthening of the remnant that remains behind.

Go back the way you came.

This will be, perhaps, one of the hardest God-given directives over your life. But it is God’s directive to give; yours to obey. In doing so, you will be given what you need to make the descent off of God’s mountain and to live in the valley below. Your earthly work is not over, friend. You must keep to the faith that you boldly proclaim. Mt. Horeb, Mt. Nebo, Mt. Heaven will come to you soon enough. Until then…

Go back the way you came, carrying God’s kingdom with you as you go. As always, may God’s peace for the journey be your portion as you take your next steps of faithful obedience. I’ll meet you in the valley where we can confidently live out our purposes beneath the protective shadow of our Father’s mountain.

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25 Responses to "Go back the way you came… "

  1. Well said, friend. It is a message for me as well.

    This post reminds me of an old hymn…

    Precious Lord, take my hand
    Lead me on, let me stand
    I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
    Through the storm, through the night
    Lead me on to the light
    Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

    Love you…

  2. For a woman who loves words,the only thing I can come up with is "Wow". Thank You Lord for my friend who has such a way of pointing me to You. Just thanks for her.
    love,
    L
    P.S. Wow <3

  3. "Times when the weightiness of the load that I was carrying led to my collapse and my 'Enough, Lord.'" I have been crying "Enough Lord" for about the last week but He has given me the strength and will power to continue to but one foot in front of the other. It isn't easy but I know He is leading me and I will come through this desert stronger than ever. Thank for the encouragement today.

  4. I can't help but smile as I read this Elaine, not at the longings of your heart, they have been my own as well, many times… but at the way you voice things. I can picture that 'worn out from forty days and nights of wandering toward the mountain of the Lord.'… Been there.

    Yet, as you so wonderfully do, after the feelings of misery and pain, you always 'go back the way you came'.

    Strong stuff and something here for every one of us!

    xo

  5. I had never thought about those words in that verse before. Wow, what a challenge. So good to know that our Father gives to us what we need to make it through the valleys — especially when He tells us to go back the way we came!

  6. Oh dear friend. You have no idea how these words resonate in my heart this morning. God has me in such a place as he prepares me for my next season of ministry….

    Thank you for writing these words…

    Blessings.

  7. No modern translation for me:
    “I’ve had enough, LORD… take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”..I have written these exact words in my prayer journal, I've prayed this out loud to our Father…

    sigh….

    Go back the way you came…here I am once again, 'going back'. Running a daycare. After closing mine down after 20 years, the Lord now has lead me to run a daycare for refugee's at an Agency.

    Lord, thank You for leading me here this morning and for speaking to my heart. Thank You for this precious sister, who shares her heart, and in doing so, touches so many others with Your love, Your comfort and Your strength. Bless her, strengthen her, comfort her and do for her more than she could ever ask, imagine or pray for…amen amen amen

  8. Your message resonates with my heart. I remember a night in the spring of 2010 when I was out running in the dark. I talked to God about this. I told him I was ready and wanted to go HOME. He answered that it was not yet my last mile.
    *Regarding the eBook I am writing, you will not need a Kindle. Thanks for asking.

  9. It can be hard to move forward and just as difficult to return to a place we just left, making life just plain arduous no matter how we look at it. May we each persevere in faith more each day. There is no other way.

    Blessings sweet lady.

  10. Elaine, this post amazes me – for the timing of it. Just what I need to read tonight. Elijah is one of my favorite prophets cause he's so real, and so down to earth.

    Go back the way you came – there's no other way. I remember a time I spent at a spiritual disciplines retreat up in the Swiss Alps… our retreat director said basically the same thing, "The way out is the the way in."

    The way of escape… is the way we entered. Sometimes I wish God would give me another way out, where I do not have to confront the enemy…

    But apparently, in God's economy, that is not how it works.

    Elijah had to face Jezebel… and in doing so, she was toppled down and dethroned forever.

    Thank you dear Faith Elaine for this post – it has inspired me anew to face and confront the enemy.

    Love
    Lidia

  11. Powerful posting Elaine…

    Most of us have certainly had those moments where we look up and say "Enough Lord", and yet like Elijah we're called to "Go back the way you came." That's where our faith needs to guide our steps, leading us back down that path the Lord has chosen. For although we may not fathom the reason for our trials, God knows exactly where He's sending us, and why.

    And that's enough.

    Have a Blessed Day Elaine!

  12. In recent weeks I have spent numerous hours contemplating the 'how's' of ending this earthly life. So looking to go to the mountain and die.
    Yet in the past week, somehow, God has been able to reach a place in my heart and begin to (slowly) mend what has been broken since losing my Mark.
    I'm not sure how to 'go back the way I came' but I believe God will guide me every step of the way.
    This 'going back' will be the most difficult part of recovery however a necessary portion toward God's purposes being fulfilled.
    Continuing to pray for you in the midst!!

  13. Oh how I have had to "go back the way I came". I am certain that God has spoken those very words to me and I have listened more in the past few years than years past and truly see His and His evidence of working out that plan. Thanks for such compelling words, to tie up another day of shoes laces, walk there again, and this time with a better strut.

  14. Elaine, you give me peace for my own journey each time I read your words. I have so many friends who are weary now, going through cancer treatment and I am weary as well as I continue to lift them up to God for healing and for strength for their personal journeys. Yet what you said
    "you will be given what you need to make the descent off of God’s mountain and to live in the valley below. Your earthly work is not over, friend. You must keep to the faith that you boldly proclaim. There’s more work to be done. More people who need the witness of your story. More strengthening of the remnant that remains behind."

    These are words of experience; words of strength! Thank you!
    Your story continues to be a witness!

  15. My "Enough, Lord" is usually some pitiful, trivial thing that has no reason to be uttered. But even during the times I am overwhelmed, just by stuff, it is good to be directed to "Go back." Thank you for this pearl in the oyster.

  16. wifeforthejourney:

    The connection you draw in supposing Elijah's motives for climbing Mt Horeb to die as Moses died on Mt Nebo is very insightful. Who among us has not reached such low moments in life that we have not wanted to check out, to give up, to die? The human heart can know both great joy and great saddness; great hope and great dispair; triumph and trajedy; victory and defeat.

    It is only the shallow thinker who can look at Elijah and wonder "after all God has done for him, how can he give up now?" None of us are above doubt and discouragement because even the "greatest" among us still have hearts of flesh.

    So today (Sept. 26, 2011) I'm retracing my own steps. What is the way I came? How did I get where I am? How do I find my way back? As I go, what have I forgotten that God wants me to remember? What a comfort it is, knowing that as I go, I don't go alone.

    Love you,
    Billy

  17. One of those post I needed to hear. I have felt like this often in the pat couple of months but I know not to give up.