I am taking a break this week to rest and recharge my batteries. One of the issues that God is currently dealing with in my life is getting another layer of spiritual immaturity stripped away. He is teaching me how to seamlessly transition from high moments to low moments without acting like a teenager. I am calling this layer, The Elijah Effect. Elijah was a great prophet of God and much of his life is one that I respect and want to emulate. Just like all of us, he had flaws. The story I want to focus on today is from 1 Kings, Chapter 19. In Chapter 18, Elijah had just had a great victory over Jezebel and the prophets of Baal when he soaked the altar with water and called down fire. The fire of God consumed everything soaking wet and the Baal priests were killed. What a great moment for Elijah and the remnant that had not bowed their knee to Baal (the false god). Then we see in Chapter 19 that Ahab ran home to his mommy (a.k.a. Jezebel, his wife).
1 Kings 19 New Living Translation (NLT)
Elijah Flees to Sinai
19 When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”
3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
You would think that Elijah’s natural response after having that mountaintop experience would be to laugh and say, “Did you not just hear about what miraculous signs my God performed? Do you think I am going to be afraid of a self-indulged queen having a temper tantrum?” His response was quite the opposite. He ran. Not only did God allow Elijah the free will to run, but after he stopped to rest, the Lord sent angels to strengthen him.
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”
8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai,[a] the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.
Many of us experience a great move of God or witness huge miracles, signs and wonders. We are so exhilarated and in love with Jesus! In my experience, within a short period of time, it’s easy to be experiencing the extreme opposite. If you have been pressing into the Lord to get closer to Him, you may experience some of this Elijah effect. Maybe you just came home from an amazing missions trip. Maybe you witnessed a huge move of the Holy Spirit where many people were saved, healed and delivered. Maybe in your own time with God you entered deeper into the Holy of Holies than you have ever been. Many times as we come out of this mountain top experience we are more acutely aware of the defects of this fallen world and the natural realm around us, and the flaws of the people that we need to interact with every day. How do you respond? Sometimes I don’t respond very Christ-like. I can be grouchy and feeling like I would like to spend a day or two in a cave by myself. Elijah wanted to die. He went from his greatest day ever to his worst moment as he ran for his life!
Elijah still had a job to do:
But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
15 Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi[b] to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet.
God still wanted to use Elijah for decreeing, declaring, and anointing/training Elisha to take his place. As we spiritually mature, we must be able to transition from those awesome places with God to continuing to fulfill our destiny when the attack comes right behind the victory. How much good are we to the lost and hurting world if we are wanting to live in our caves or have a less than a lovely attitude when we interact with others? One of our pastors briefly touched on this in Sunday’s sermon. We need to be heavenly minded and earthly good at the same time. We need to walk in the glory realm and learn to maintain it as we live on the earth!
I believe we have something that Elijah didn’t have. We have Jesus in our hearts and the Holy Spirit living inside of us. God was with Elijah and the Spirit rested upon him, but we have God living inside of us because of what Jesus did for us.
As I was running this morning, I felt the Lord’s still small voice say that the secret to operating between the two realms effectively is compassion:
Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 14:14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick
Mark 6:34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Luke 6:36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.
Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.
As a member of today’s remnant, I am choosing to shed this layer of spiritual immaturity by laying aside my own feelings and fears. Jesus, help me to be able to operate from the glory realm and carrying your compassion for everyone on this earth at the same time. Enable me and all believers to want to fulfill their destinies on this earth and not complain that they just want to be home with You. Mature your people to a place of seamless transition between heaven and earth. Amen