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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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.