When the soul lacks rest
White space and quiet.
Peace and tranquility.
These are the things I crave.
Our souls are living crushed and overwhelmed by busy schedules and information streams that never sleep.
We consume. We produce. We race from here to there. We wave our busy flag with pride, while inside our soul begs for slow.
God whispers. Do we hear? He speaks. Do we recognize His voice?
God says fast
Last weekend God whispered for me to rest from the constant stream of information and the hum of social media. He extended an invitation to fast from the noise of the world and come back to Him in the quiet. I responded with a quick yes. My soul is not meant to carry the weight of all information it receives via the internet.
When I take these fasts, I enter burned out and tired. I leave renewed and energized. I often wonder why I wait so long.
Running from fear and exhaustion
There’s a fascinating story in the Bible. 1 King 19. Elijah flees. He’s burned out. He’s scared.
He laid down and told God he’d had enough and wanted to die.
God answered by sending an angel to provide food and water. Elijah took it then lay down again and slept. Again the angel returned. He told Elijah the journey ahead was too much for him and gave him more food and water. Elijah received the strength he needed and continued 40 days on his journey. Then he came to a cave.
I relate much to Elijah through this story. At times I feel so on fire for the Lord and give and give and pour and pour. Then in exhaustion and fear, I want to run away.
I get burned out. Burned out in my callings, my ministries, my passions. I get burned out in my simple day to day, ordinary life too.
Where do we find our retreat?
I crave the cave.
All I want is to retreat to the safety of my cave.
The Lord came to Elijah and asked him a question. You know, God always knows the answer. God knows the truth and at times will ask us so we are forced to face the truth we are ignoring.
In verse 9 God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I love the intimacy God uses when He speaks. The sound of our own name can be a beautiful thing.
Verse 10 ‘He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The Lord instructed Elijah to leave the cave and stand on the mountain. He tells Elijah the Lord is about to pass by.
God meets us in our hiding place
God wanted to pull him out of his dark hiding place.
God pulls us out of our darkness as well. He wants us to hear Him speaking.
I noticed something I never noticed before as I read this passage. Watch this.
’11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’
I always envisioned this story with Elijah coming out of the cave first. But he didn’t. He waited until he recognized the voice of the Lord.
God used the ordinary over the miraculous to speak. He does the same today. He can speak however and whenever He chooses. But do we hear Him?
Elijah recognized that gentle whisper and stepped out of his dark cave.
And when I retreat from the world and tuck into my personal cave, the Lord meets me too. He invites me out.
When Elijah recognized God’s whisper, God spoke. He asked the exact question He asked Elijah the first time.
‘Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”‘
Elijah answered the EXACT same way. So God asked the same question. Elijah gave the same answer.
Did you see that??? This struck me.
14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
At this point, God gave Elijah specific instructions to go back the way he came. God told Elijah what to do and how to do it.
Fear fades. Strength returns.
Elijah left renewed. He followed God’s instructions.
He went from fearful and burned out, to renewed and strengthened. Not by the cave, but by an encounter with God.
What I need is more of God. What I need is Him alone. What I need is to recognize His voice and listen to His words.
I need less world, more Word.
When I break away from whatever is weighing down my soul, I receive refreshment from God. Often, He responds for me to go back the way I came, but He gives me Himself so I can take the journey back.
You know what I think? I think if we spent more time focused on the character and heart of God, we’d experience less fear, less anxiety, less worry, less burn out. Because in light of the awesomeness of who He is, all else shrinks.
What we focus on grows.
When I focus on my problems, they grow bigger. When I focus on my anxious heart, the anxiety triples in size. When I focus on my fear, I’m consumed by the darkness it lives in.
But when I focus on who God is, my heart rate slows. My breathing evens. My shoulders relax. I can be still because I remember just who He is.
- are in need of a renewal of strength and energy.
- are burned out craving a cave to hide in.
- are trying to outrun your fear that won’t give up the chase.
- feel you can’t hear God speak anymore.
- are looking to hit a restart button.
- just need to be renewed.
I have something I think will help. Let me be clear. God alone is all you need. His Word.
But sometimes we find we need something to nudge us a bit, remind us, or help us reconnect.
If that sounds like you, I invite you to grab a copy of Illuminate. Illuminate is a 14 day devotion that will be a soothing balm to your soul. It is gentle and kind and will redirect your focus from your fear and worry onto your Creator. It will help you to remember how to maintain your focus on Jesus.
Illuminate is a mixture of devotions centered on the character of God and scripture readings and meditations. It’s available as either an audio devotional with pdf transcripts that arrives in your inbox once per day over a 14 day period. Or as an ebook download you can receive all at once. Your choice. One price. Yours forever.
I find myself going back to it at various seasons when I feel my distraction level and stress levels rising. It calms and quiets my soul. And I hope it will do the same for you.
It’s available on sale for 50% right now too! Grab a copy for yourself and a few friends.