Summary: Like Elijah, we often find ourselves in a cave of hardness, coldness and perhaps even spiritual and emotional depression. We listen for the voice of the Lord, but he often speaks in ways that we aren't expecting. God wants us to come out of that cave an
Come Out of the Cave
August 10, 2011
By Pastor James May
The Prophet Elijah was a man of God like none other described in the Bible. He did mighty exploits for the Lord, and saw the hand of God move to perform great miracles at Elijah’s word. At his word alone, God stopped the rain for 3 years, and at Elijah’s word, the rain came again. At his word the fire fell from Heaven and at his word 400 priests of Baal were slain. Elijah spoke and the secret sins of Ahab and Jezebel were brought to light for all to see. God used him mightily. But even this mighty man of God was susceptible to the tricks of the devil and it was only a short step to finding himself bound up in the spirit and on the run.
Jezebel, that queen of sin, if you will, was after Elijah and she was determined to have his head on a pole if she ever caught him. Elijah had defied her idol gods and false priests on Mt. Carmel and he came from that mountain of victory and was now entering into one of the deepest valleys of depression that he would ever experience. He went from being a mighty man of God, performing miracles, signs and wonders; to a man filled with self-pity, writhing in the agony of deep, dark depression under an old juniper tree.
None of us are immune to times of great depression and some of us tend to stay depressed a long time when we go down into that valley. It’s easy going down; but coming up out of that dark valley is never easy and it truly requires a walk by faith, trusting God to be faithful. In our own human strength it is nearly impossible; but with God, we can rise again much quicker.
At his darkest moment, Elijah had a visitation from the angel of the Lord. This was the Old Testament version of saying that Jesus came to him when he needed him most. He gave Elijah food and water so that he might regain his strength. To each of us this simply means that when we need Jesus the most He is always there. Jesus comes to give us that Bread of Life daily; and to give us the infilling power of the Holy Ghost; and the water of the Word. These are the food and drink that we all need to be overcomers.
God knows our limitations as frail human flesh. Jesus knows, from his own personal experiences, the weakness, doubts, fears and troubles that we all face every day. And sometimes we are so filled with self-pity and so far down in the dumps that God has to come to us more than once; feeding us with his Word; filling us with his Spirit and giving us strength for the journey of life before us.
I believe that’s why Jesus told us in Hebrews 10:25 to “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”. The Lord has designed his church so that none of us should go it alone. God knows that we gain strength from one another, encouragement from one another; and that feeling of family and community and belonging to something far greater and stronger than ourselves.
It is just a fact of life that those who are not faithful to gathering with the church rarely continue to walk with Jesus for very long because the “Call of the Wild” to return to that life of sin is always hounding them and Satan is quick to steal their victory. Satan’s number one goal in the life of a Christian is to return with a vengeance to destroy the life of the Believer and get them to walk away from God.
It is also a fact of life that the more we come together in church, the stronger we will be bound together in love; and the more we will love coming together in Christ. What it all comes down to is that I need you and you need me; we all need one another for accountability, encouragement and strength to continue on. Without faithfulness to the House of God and gathering in the church, with the church, there is seldom any true walk with the Lord.
God gave Elijah strength for the journey and he went on for 40 days, but his time of distress had not ended. He was still on the run; traveling in the darkness, hiding in daylight, always on the move because he knew that Jezebel was still after him and there was a price on his head.
Finally Elijah had found a cave; a place of darkness, hardness and solitude. In this place he was alone. I know a lot of people, even in the church, who have found their own version of a cave. No one can reach them. They have moved back into their shell of hardness; into the darkness of their own doubts and fears; and they don’t want to open up to anyone. They prefer to fight their battles all alone. They don’t trust anyone; and they don’t believe that anyone can possibly understand what’s happening to them. That is nothing but a trick of the devil. He knows that if we fight alone we can’t defeat him; so he forces us into a place of internal solitude; where no man can get to us and then just continuously points a finger of guilt and shame at us to keep us from looking up.