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.