Daily D – 1 Kings 19:9
1 Kings 19:9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: . . .” We get the idea from overhearing God’s conversation with Elijah that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reason. Read chapters 18 and 19 to see the fuller context.
Elijah appears to have come to this place where God met with Moses and where Israel encamped after leaving Egypt to resign and die. He was giving up. He was done. He saw no way forward.
I heard the term burnout a few times growing up. It usually came from a preacher who disparaged the term. Inevitably, the preacher would say, “I would rather burn out than rust out.” This is clever wordplay for sermonizing, but it is a terrible idea. Ask anyone who has ever burned out.
Sitting in a hospital emergency room in heart attack protocol and shaking violently and uncontrollably, one preacher wondered if this is how it ended. He was placed in a special unit while test after test was used to gauge his vitality.
In those dark hours of the night stretching through the wee hours of the morning, he heard the whispered voice asking him, “What are you doing here?” The assessment was not pretty. He did not go to bed until late at night and then arose at 4:30. He thought he was being holy and productive. He was neither.
He tried to please everyone, to take care of everyone, and to solve every problem in his own strength. He discovered he was not that strong. Healthy change was called for and changes were made. However, there were those who preferred his former ways of overcommitment and told him he was not doing enough.
Like Elijah and Southwest Airlines, he wanted to get away.
On another occasion years later, he was told his job was becoming part-time. He would get to bear the burden of his own expenses. He needed a second job to provide him with things like insurance, retirement, and business expenses.
He had read these chapters about Elijah right before receiving this news. “What are you doing here?” The question arrived soft and clear. This time, he was not running away. This time, he was running toward a calling. This time he knew what to say and what to ask for.
He wanted what God wanted and arrived where he had been led by the same God asking the same question again. It was good. It did not lead to burnout. It led instead to the kindling of a greater fire.
When God whispers your name today and asks, “What are you doing here,” is it because you are running away from him, or is it because you are running toward him?
You will notice if you keep reading Elijah’s story how we know much more about him after he resigned than before. We see how God guided him to do more than ever before after he realized new truths about God and about himself.
The cure for burnout is refocused purpose and re-engineered life-giving habits.
* Seek God’s dream for your life and how to live it. (See Ephesians 2:10.)
* Work from a place of rest rather than resting from your work.
* Life a life focused on what is important now every day.
* Do not try to do everything in your own strength.
* Do not go alone.
Again, Ecclesiastes is helpful.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV
Your life becomes a great adventure when you are in the right place at the right time for the right reason with God as your guide and as your provider.
There are two options for our lives. We can live isolated and ready to die like Elijah in the cave, or we can live a life of purpose and glory like Elijah when he had a mission to complete. I recommend the latter.
I will live on mission today helping others live lives better than they dreamed possible.
Our Father, your dreams for us are better than any we could dream for ourselves. Deliver us from foolish fantasies and from burnout. Give us purpose and direction today and every day. Amen.
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2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)
2 Chronicles 33:15, 16 He got rid of the foreign gods and removed the image from the temple of the Lord, as well as all the altars he had built on the temple hill and in Jerusalem; and he threw them out of the city. Then he restored the altar of the Lord and sacrificed fellowship offerings and thank offerings on it, and told Judah to serve the Lord, the God of Israel.
Matthew 3:8 “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
2 Kings 20:2, 3 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”