Come back running

Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals was a stressful situation for me: Michael Jordan, my favorite basketball player, had one of his worst games ever.  Jordan’s problem was fatigue – the physical demands of the series had him in the full nelson.  In the third quarter, Phil Jackson benched Jordan for what seemed like an eternity.  Rather than pout, Michael made the best of a bad situation – he drank some Gatorade and recharged his battery.  When he returned in the fourth quarter, he hit the court running.  The Bulls won the game and series partly because of Jordan’s stellar fourth quarter performance.

When you get your second wind, it makes sense to come back running.  When GOD breaks Satan’s submission hold on your spirit, you owe it to yourself to come back, determined to win!  That’s what Elijah did in today’s text.  Once he received instructions and inspiration from GOD, he resumed his race with passion.  He pursued his mission as if the pandemonium in the wilderness never happened.

After you make it through the storm, pick up where you left off.  Schedule a rematch with the enemy, and give him a fight he’ll never forget.  Come back running after everything Satan stole from you!

Be blessed …

Wait on the LORD

David said, “Wait patiently for the LORD.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14, New Living Translation).  Waiting on GOD, however, is often easier said than done.  It’s hard to wait for HIM when you’re tired of being tired.  It’s a laborious task to stand still when it’s seems GOD hasn’t acknowledged your plea.  It’s tough to be patient when others instantly receive the blessings you’ve requested for months.

Waiting was a novel experience for Elijah in this text, for GOD normally answered him immediately.  But this time HE delayed HIS response when Elijah prayed.  If Elijah was anything like us, then I’m sure he had some choice words for GOD – “What’s taking YOU so long.  Have you forgotten about me.  I mean, I am doing YOUR will, you know.”  But GOD’S delay was probably the best remedy for Elijah, for had HE answered HIS prayer request immediately, Elijah would have died in the wilderness (see 1 Kings 19:4).  After 40 days, GOD answered Elijah, and HIS WORD gave Elijah the strength and confidence to resume his mission.

No matter how long it takes, we should wait on GOD.  Impatience can be disastrous; just ask Abraham and Sarah.  So wait on GOD, and HE’LL give you a life-changing solution.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along (Psalm 40:1-2, New Living Translation).

Find a friend

As I thought about friends, the words of a classic song came to mind: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend.  I’ll help you carry on.”  If there’s ever a good time to employ a friend’s services, then it’s when trials find your address.  Good friends ease your burdens; they help you see clearly when darkness surrounds you.  No wonder John Churton Collins said, “In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.”

I wish Elijah could have read this recharge because in this text, he tried to weather his storm alone.  I’m not sure why – maybe he thought his servant wouldn’t understand, maybe he thought the battle was his to fight.  Whatever the cause, Elijah left his servant behind and traveled into the wilderness.  In the wilderness, Elijah’s thoughts sunk lower than ever; he said, “I have had enough, Lord … Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (1 Kings 19:4, New Living Translation).  This excerpt shows the dangers of isolation – we become the victims of our own thoughts.

One thing is certain – it’s easier to fight when you have encouraging friends.  Maybe that’s why JESUS asked Peter, James, and John to pray for HIM as HE endured agony in Gethsemane.  So when you’re fatigued in battle, find a friend to share the load.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, New Living Translation)

Stand still

The miracle at the Red Sea is a fitting segue into today’s recharge.  The Israelites left Egypt unharmed via GOD’S protection and providence, but at the Red Sea, they were trapped between a “rock and a hard place.”  As the Israelites’ concern reached its peak, Moses confidently said, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again” (Exodus 14:13, New Living Translation).  Imagine the rebuttal circulating among the Israelites: “Have you lost your mind, Moses?  If we don’t run, we’ll surely die!”  But the statement that seemed crazy was correct; when they stood still, GOD eliminated their enemies.

In this text, however, Elijah chose the opposing alternative.  When Jezebel disclosed her intentions to kill Elijah, he ran.  And, boy, did he run; he ended up over 80 miles away from his problem!  That’s how we often respond to our problems.  Instead of waiting on GOD, we run by denying the problem, devoting our time to other endeavors, or worrying ourselves sick.

If you’re considering running from your problems, then please heed this advice: running doesn’t solve anything.  As a matter of fact, your trials will be waiting on the porch when you return.  Instead of running, stand still and await victory.  Trust GOD to work in your favor just like HE always has!

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm (Ephesians 6:13, New Living Translation).

It’s not the end of the world

I grew up embracing the joy of salvation. For a long time, I thought that all problems disappeared once you acknowledged Christ as LORD and SAVIOR.  While Christianity has tremendous benefits, it’s not a “walk in the park.”  Honestly, our affiliation with CHRIST is a welcome mat for problems.  So if you live for CHRIST, expecting a flowery bed of ease, then trials will seem like the end of the world.

Maybe that’s what happened to Elijah in this text.  Maybe he thought his life on earth would always be like his experience on Mt. Carmel – easy street, full of faith and the power of GOD.  Maybe he thought his enemies would suspend their activity once they saw GOD’S power working in/through him.  I’m not sure what he thought in particular, but I’m certain that Jezebel’s death threat ruffled his feathers.  Elijah was so rattled by her ferocity that he ran like a coward.

If you feel like Elijah, then let me offer this assurance: your trials are not the end of the world.  Trials often validate that you’re on the right path, for Paul told Timothy, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12, New Living Translation).  More importantly, trials are a down payment on a wonderful future, for Paul also said, “If we endure hardship, we will reign with him (JESUS)” (2 Timothy 2:12, New Living Translation).

Your problems aren’t the end of the world.  Hang in there …