I recently introduced a short series of posts on what to do when you are faced with these thoughts, ”I’ve had enough. I’m ready to quit!” It could be your job, your marriage, your faith. We’re using the story of Elijah, who utters those exact words to God, immediately following his most triumphant victory as a prophet.
In our language, Elijah was suffering from burnout. Elijah made it back to health through embracing these three mentalities:
Theoretically, you’ve received a fresh Word from God. You started with rest – not just slowing down, but resting to be restored. You continued with a journey through God’s sacred wilderness and found a word from God.
You’re not done. You’ve heard truth from God, but also his command. It’s time to respond with faith.
Respond with Faith
After years of acting alone, it was time for Elijah to partner up. God tells Elijah to anoint two different men as new kings of two different nations, and then he says:
“…anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet.” -1 Kings 19:16 NLT
Notice God is answering all of Elijah’s questions and complaints in this final step. The complaint of Elijah is why God allowed evil to continue throughout Israel, so God promises to bring God’s judgment to the royal family for introducing false gods to the nation. Elijah also complains he is alone among the entire nation doing following God and doing His will, so Elijah is commanded to anoint this successor and train him to lead the other 7,000 loyal followers of God.
Elijah finally heard God’s voice, so he doesn’t ask questions. He simply responds with faith. In other words, Elijah acts in obedience.
Edwin Louis Cole founded the Christians Men’s Network, helping create a men’s movement for Jesus in the United States. In speaking to men across America, he said,
“Obedience is an act of faith; disobedience is the result of unbelief.” -Edwin Louis Cole
It’s not enough to for God to speak. Most times God speaks a mixture of truth about us and the world and command of what we are to do about it. If you believe God spoke, you will act. Obedience is an act of faith.
Respond with Faith: Obedience sets you apart
While God answered Elijah’s questions, it was still up to Elijah to obey. For some of us, action is the easiest step. The resting and receiving seem impossible. For others, moving forward is the most difficult thing to do. Either way, action is meaningless without obedience.
I find more often than not, people know an action step of faith they are supposed to take, they simply haven’t acted in obedience yet. I promise you, consistently taking these steps of faith (obedience) is what will set you apart from those around you.
Through his obedience, Elijah acts in faith. It set him apart from the other 7,000 followers of God. His obedience to God’s commandS (throughout the years) inspired God to take Elijah from the earth in the most unique way imaginable — on a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2).
Life is REST + RECEIVE + RESPOND
Elijah was ready to quit. God instead guided Elijah to rest for restoration, receive a fresh word to which Elijah responded with faith. This pattern isn’t unique to Elijah. It’s repeated centuries later with Jesus and his disciples.
The disciples rest to restore
The betrayal, trial, crucifixion, and even the resurrection were traumatic for Jesus’ disciples. When we read the gospels and the book of Acts, we often don’t appreciate the time between Jesus resurrection and his ascension. They are weeks apart – 40 days. In between, Jesus meets with them on occasion, but he lets them rest, recover, restore. At one point, Jesus meets some of the disciples at a lake. They’ve gone back to their old life of fishing, and Jesus is waiting on the beach for them. He prepares a meal for them, and takes Peter through a process of restoration (after Peter had denied Jesus three times the night of his betrayal and trial).
Throughout these days and weeks, Jesus restores his friends, so they identify not just as God’s creation, but as children of God.
The disciples receive God’s Word
As Jesus prepares to return to the Father, he challenges them to wait. This wait will look different than Elijah’s. It won’t be a physical wilderness but spiritual and emotional. They will continue to lay low and hide, including in an random upper room in a nondescript Jewish home. In quiet (and maybe sometimes loud) prayer, wind and fire sweep through the room, but it is the still, quiet Spirit within them that transforms these nobody men and women into somebodies.
This wait was actually a journey to receive God’s word.
The disciples respond with faith
But they didn’t simply receive God’s word in that upper room. They responded. Immediately. With faith, they went into the streets, miraculously speaking the languages of those around them, sharing the good news of Jesus. That day alone, 3000 people chose to follow Jesus.
Where are you?
Where are you in this pattern of REST | RECEIVE | RESPOND?
There is no right or wrong answer, other than to be aware of where you are. There is no specific amount of time for any of these places either. You could need rest for days and someone else for weeks. The time to receive could be weeks, months or even longer.
No matter where you find yourself, embrace where God has you now. Know it is temporary. A new season is coming, but for now, God is molding your identity, He’s making you into a somebody, and he’s waiting for the perfect moment to send you to do his work!