I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.”
~Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
Then Elijah was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. 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.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. … And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God… There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And He said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
~ Elijah, challenged to the core by G_d, in 1 Kings 19
Oh beloved, it is true.
We, each of us, have a deep capacity for life. We can do so many things. Our Creator has built into us survival and creative skills that allow us to overcome a wide range of obstacles. Our bodies fight off deadly infections. We can take in vast amounts of information and our bodies can respond to a huge range of stimuli.
We are, to put it simply, a miracle. We are bio-mechanical machines that can easily last into our eighth decade with just a little nutrition, rest, and exercise. Still, even the bodies we have sometimes fall into problems. And the problems at the physical level give us deeper insights.
About 30 years ago, I was in college and working part-time as a cargo and luggage agent for an airline. It was good work, and I got plenty of heavy exercise on a regular basis. However, one day, we had a particularly large piece of cargo come off the back of a 737. As it came down the belt loader, we could tell it was a very heavy piece.
As the pallet came down to the end of the belt, we checked the label. It read nearly 300 pounds, and so me and another guy got set to guide the item into a waiting cart. This was work we were prepared to do, and we had the right equipment: good gloves, waist belts, solid work shoes, and a few years of learning how to handle loads like these.
We were not ready.
Instead of the load weighing about 300, it was mislabeled .- The “3” was probably supposed to be and “8.” Suffice it to say, the two us were instantly overcome by the load. I still remember how quickly we crumpled under the crushing weight of that pallet. Nothing in our training or skills or build was ready to handle that extra 500 pounds… So, down we went. I still have lingering back problems from that event.
In a similar (albeit deeper) way, Elijah had just come off of some pretty amazing events. He had watched all his years and preparation as a servant of G_d, come to fruition in the rout of the prophets of Baal. He was all geared up. And, he had (literally) called down the fire of creation to show the truth that YHVH was the real deal.
He was not ready either.
Immediately upon his confident victory, he was overwhelmed by the weight of the political circumstances, and temper of the local dictators. He ran off into the desert and was overwhelmed all the more. And, even as he made it out of the desert due to some miraculous feeding, he came up on a G_d who intended to overwhelm Elijah to the end of his wits.
Can we see it?
Both stories get us to the point. There are a wide range of things we were never designed to handle. There are stresses, burdens, fears, and broken things that will indeed crush us if we try to handle them on our own.
In the case of the load coming off the belt, us young guys should have gotten some help before this big pallet crushed us. And, in the case of Elijah, He should have been asking His real King for directions, instead of running off into the desert – then even having the audacity to keep pushing back against G_d after these weeks of failure.
So, are you carrying a load that is crushing you? Time to stop. Time to get some help. Time to get your Father’s insight, before He has to start asking you some questions. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to stop trying to carry what you cannot carry.
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Daily Quote: “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourself so. If you find yourself so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God’s. He begs you to leave the future to him, and mind the present.” ~George Macdonald (1824-1905)
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
By transgression an evil man is snared, But the righteous sings and rejoices. Proverbs 29:6