Before I start let’s get something out of the way.. I think it goes without saying that I am not a fancy theologian, and I also do not have all of the answers. I am just a girl who loves Jesus and struggles with consistency (cough cough, the frequency of my blog posts are a perfect example). I find that when I come to God genuinely wanting to learn, He always speaks.
God speaks? What? Well if you didn’t know, now you know. How? He speaks through His Word, He can speak through people, dreams, visions, circumstances, confirmations. He speaks to people in different ways. Though I have had supernatural experiences, I find that God speaks to me the most through His word/ preachings.
Anyway, before I can go forward I have to take you back to the beginning of my Christian journey. Back when I believed in God with my mind and would pray “God, reveal yourself to me” with one eye open because I was actually terrified of what could happen.
For those that don’t know my story, it’s safe to say I’ve definitely struggled with my identity. My parents divorced when I was 3 and though they eventually became good friends, the consequences of that wrecked me more than I cared to admit. I concealed a lot of my pain by making sure I was always with friends. I was loud and I was short tempered. I was uncomfortable being alone.
Coming to Christ in 2011 came with big sacrifices. I no longer had the childhood friendships I relied on for fulfillment and my mom was not thrilled about my choices. Everything I leaned on for my identity was taken away and for the first time I was forced to come to terms with the reality of my life. My shortcomings, what I lacked, the pain I had subconsciously tucked away time and time again.. honestly, I wasn’t even sure who I was.
I can only describe that year as a beautiful paradox (I’ve never used that word in a sentence but it just came to me so I hope I used it correctly, ha). It was filled with so much tearing down and building up. Being emptied in ordered to be filled. Choosing Christ didn’t mean my problems were solved, sometimes it felt like I was better off without Him. But He was patient with me. Looking back on that season, God never judged me for my feelings. He met me where I was and took His time. I came out of it refined. He taught me His posture towards depression and a thing or two about His faithfulness.
And now.. after what seems like the longest intro ever.. I am finally ready to share with you the context of today’s post. It is a story that He used to comfort me back in 2011, and that He recently used to blow my mind once more a few weeks ago.
The story is in 1 Kings 19 (the first 8 verses to be exact).. Now, let it be known that the Old Testament intimidates me LOL (am I the only one?) So I’m not exactly sure how I ended up there all those many years ago.. but God knows it was what my heart needed.
You see, Elijah was a prophet who had just done something very bold and God was cleaaaaarly with him (I’ll talk about this a little further down). Now as a consequence to his actions, his life was in danger. So he runs away in fear and asks God to take his life. Verse 4 says,
And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He was in a pretty bad place. He had no hope and it was obvious he didn’t see a future for himself. Now what I love about this is God’s response. He literally sends an angel to feed and strengthen Elijah. In verse 7 the angel tells him, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” .. Where Elijah had seen an end God still saw a journey and purpose.
He was never shamed for his feelings.. like in his most vulnerable state God literally took care of him and he was able to go “in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God” (verse 8).. where, if you read on, GOD SHOWED UP.
Moral of the story: Don’t let the negative feelings you may be experiencing keep you from approaching God.
Fast forward to 2018, and here I am experiencing a different kind of shame. This one you might be able to relate to if you’ve been a believer for some time.. it’s the “I should’ve known better” fiasco.
Newsflash: the amount of time you’ve been a Christian has no direct correlation with the amount of times you will sin. Granted, as you grow in knowledge and wisdom, there should be changes in the way that you live your life, but it doesn’t mean you are immune to sin. If anything, the longer you’ve been a Christian, the quicker you should be able to repent whenever you slip up.
So anyway, I found myself frustrated at the thought that I was still giving in to things I knew were clearly wrong for my life. I felt dumb in asking God for forgiveness when, “I shouldn’t even have done it in the first place” and thinking “I’ve had supernatural experiences with God, why am I still sinning”.. Here’s what God is teaching me:
- This world is broken, which means that sin is present. The enemy is looking to destroy, and so how could I be so naive in thinking I am not a target?
- Instead of repenting of the action/sin.. I’ve been asking God to show me the reason behind my actions… when I learn why I do things and I’m more specific in my prayer God is able to get to the root of the problem, and I am able to understand myself better.
- God delights in second chances.
Now, to provide support for that last point I want to take us back to the story of Elijah.. this time in 1 Kings 18, aka the reasoning behind his life being at risk.
You see, Elijah was a prophet of the Lord which meant that he spoke on God’s behalf.. this oftentimes meant calling out injustice and idolatry and challenging people to repent and return to God .. (this video is really good at giving an overview of 1 & 2 Kings). If you’re a visual learner I encourage you to watch from 4:40-5:30 or just read 1 Kings 18:20-40.
In a nutshell Elijah was confronting the King who had turned from God to the Baals (foreign gods). He did about the most savage thing you could do and asked him to gather all of the people in the town and the prophets of Baal and basically challenged them to a duel.. dun dun dun.
23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”
Btw.. He was the only prophet of God against 450 prophets of Baal. Oh, and he let them go first cause he knew..
They finished their offering and cried out to their gods from morning til noon.
Elijah stepped up his savagery and mocks them in verse 27..
“Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.
They made fools out of themselves yet no one answered them.
So here comes Elijah, stepping it up once again. He’s so confident in his God that he takes it up a notch and adds WATER to the sacrifice. WATER, like what.
And guess what? GOD SHOWED UP:
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
I had a hard time understanding how someone who had experienced God in such a supernatural way could have such an opposite reaction when faced with adversity.. then I looked within myself and realized.. Oh wait I do that!!
Now I want you to remember God’s posture when Elijah experienced depression.
And now I want you to look at what Jesus tells his disciple Peter some time before his capture..
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” -Luke 22:31-32
Jesus knew that Peter, one of His closest friends, would fail him, but that didn’t mean that Peter lost his purpose. Jesus didn’t say “if you turn again” but he said “when you turn again”.
In the same way, Jesus intercedes for us. He knows we’re not perfect.. and I’m learning that it’s not so much about me as it is about Him. So let go of what is holding you back and go get your second chance (or third, or fourth, etc.)!