Dang it – he got me again. The enemy is so subtle. Often it’s only after the fact that I am aware of his schemes. When I end up paralyzed. When I am rendered useless. When I’m unable to live freely and lightly.
Sometimes I am able to get out of that place quickly but this time I slipped down into a deep hole. I can’t explain it all away, I just know I ended up there. This is often the case for an Enneagram 4 (dubbed the ‘Individualist’). Characterized by big emotions and prone to self-pity, its all too easy for me to end up in the pit if I am not careful.
But before I get too hard on myself, I remember, I am in good company. Elijah did something similar. He was at the height of his game. Crazy, amazing things had happened. And then one teensy little death threat came his way and he freaked out. He ran and hid and wanted an escape route from life. *For the full story read 1 Kings 18 & 19*
When he finally stops and has a conversation with God he expresses his “truth.” He shares how he feels and he’s so worked up about it he repeats himself, like “God did you hear me the first time?!” I love this portion of Scripture. God just listens. He doesn’t tell Elijah to buck up or to stop complaining. But here’s the thing, his “truth” wasn’t really true at all. He believes he is the only one left when in fact there were 7,000 others on his side. He just “felt” alone.
And sometimes, when we’re tired, and when we’re discouraged, it’s hard to see clearly. It’s hard to have a good perspective. The enemy comes to try and fog my mind and my heart. He tricks me into thinking that my view is good enough. Like when you start the car on a winter morning and you’re tempted to start driving even though you’ve only defogged a small section. “This is good enough,” you think, “I can see.” But then the entire window clears up and you realize, “Oh, this is so much better.”
I was always so confused as to why someone who just tag-teamed with God performing miracle after miracle would be taken out by a threat. Didn’t he trust that God would come through for him? This intimidation worked and sent him into a spiral of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.
And while I don’t really know what it was about that particular danger that sent him into such a tailspin, I do know that I have spiralled. And I think sometimes the spiral is tailor made to our specific wiring. I think the enemy has us pegged and knows exactly what to try to take us out. John 10:10 talks about the thief coming to steal, kill and destroy. And one of the definitions of destroy in the Greek means to ‘render useless.’ When I have spiralled down into a pit of depression, into an anxiety attack, or anything else that leaves me paralyzed, I have been rendered useless.
I’ve thought of Elijah quite a bit these past few weeks. Like Elijah, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve sat down and cried out to God – “That’s it, I’m tired, I’ve had enough.” I’ve also had moments of complaining and repeating myself, “Did you hear me? This is what’s going on.” And sometimes those things I believe to be going on aren’t actually true.
When I’m alone, or when I am stuck in my head with just my thoughts, anything can be true. It’s when I get together with others who can speak the truth to me and when I sit with the One who made me, whose words of truth wash over and through me. Then I find freedom.
Here’s what I’ve found to be significant in God’s response to Elijah. He asks him to anoint a few guys as kings, to find a dude with a really similar name to appoint as his successor, and He tells him about the 7,000 others that are on his side. While at first glance this doesn’t seem to be that helpful, let me break it down.
- He gives Elijah purpose. Purpose puts passion in our hearts especially when we feel hopeless. When we spend time with Him, He gives purpose and passion to the dry and weary areas of our life.
- He doesn’t condemn Elijah for complaining, he just lets him vent. I love this about God. He always lets us cry out to Him even if what we’re saying isn’t true.
- He tells Elijah the actual truth – “you are not alone, there are 7,000 others out there who are on your side.” When we sit with God – He will speak the truth over the confusion of our heads and hearts.
- This one is my favourite – He sent Elijah to go find a companion. Elijah had been a one man show, and when we are isolated and have only our thoughts as friends, no one is there to speak truth over the lies we are believing. God’s gift to Elijah was a partner in crime. Don’t we all long for connection? When I am in isolation the lies become louder and hearing the truth can feel nearly impossible.
God’s intention is for us to engage. (Note: Jesus often went away on his own to rest – resting and escaping are not the same) But we are made for community, we are made for connection.
And sometimes the thing that keeps me from deep connection is the lie of what others are likely thinking of me. Creating opinions that others have of me leaves me in isolation more than anything else. It’s a self-imposed jail cell and the lies tangle me up in a web of bondage.
There is freedom in the truth. Not a version of the truth. But the actual truth. Getting the thoughts out of my head, allowing people to speak the truth over me and allowing God to. That is why the “still small voice” is so important. It is the truth. It frees us and helps us identify the truth from a lie.