Meltdown is when you lose control in some other way than surrendering to God, and in every meltdown situation, there’s an underlying root emotion.
Sometimes, our lives lead us in a different direction than we were anticipating or planning for. We carefully prepare for the journey, study the directions, and try to navigate every turn correctly. But sometimes, things don’t turn out how we intended, and we end up where we never expected to be. We get stuck, stalled out, and lost.
We end up in the wilderness of life.
And there’s an emotion that takes over as we feel like we’ve been left abandoned. We feel like giving up, and maybe we do.
Our personal “wilderness” can take on many different forms.
A marriage in a rough place – Maybe we watch the trouble that other marriages around us have and think, “We’ll never be like that…”
The direction your kids are heading – We feel like we’ve been the best parents we could be, creating a nurturing environment to love them unconditionally. But they’re not heading in the direction we thought they would.
Career status – We’ve put our best foot forward at work. We’re honest, hard-working, talented, a team-player, but things aren’t working out, or we feel stuck.
Your faith or walk with God – We remember the days when God seemed so close, and we looked forward to church weekly. Everything was so alive and real, but now we feel like that all seems so far away.
One of the great mysteries of life is that there are so many things that don’t add up or don’t make sense.
We often have one of two reactions to the wilderness:
Those reactions are natural, but one of the great things about God is that the wilderness isn’t where we’re abandoned. It’s where, sometimes, He meets us most powerfully.
Before we get to 1 Kings 19:1-10, Elijah confronts 450 of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18 in a decisive encounter where God consumes Elijah’s sacrifice with fire from heaven, proving He is God. Then He sends a heavy rain on the land for the first time in 3 years – a miracle. As if that’s not enough, Elijah then outruns Ahab’s chariot 17 miles from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, a miraculous accomplishment of speed or distance. Three decisive miracles. And this is where we pick up the story:
Have you ever played Jenga? The game has a tower of wooden blocks where you build the tower higher by removing blocks from it. It grows taller, taller, taller, and taller until it suddenly collapses.
That’s what happens to Elijah here in this passage. His stature, achievement, and influence grow until suddenly, at the beginning of the chapter, just when he’s had his greatest moment with three back-to-back miracles that decisively demonstrate God's power and reinforce Elijah’s calling and credibility, it falls apart.
Elijah flees into the wilderness, collapsing like the Jenga tower, utterly broken.
We find ourselves in the wilderness of life for many different reasons, but the reality is not IF we’ll face the wilderness, but WHEN.
We think success in the various places of life will keep us out of the wilderness, but here, the wilderness comes right after the greatest success. And the collapse is fast.
And like Elijah, we face several temptations when we find ourselves in the wilderness, whatever that looks like.
The Temptations of the Wilderness
It would be great if the Bible gave us good, straightforward answers for all the wilderness situations in life. A three-step process to fix the situation and get out. But it doesn’t, and that can be incredibly frustrating, but that’s not the focus.
God’s primary focus is not what we are or where we’re headed. It’s who we are becoming along the way.
In good times and bad, in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, in times of plenty and times of need, but especially in the hard places of life.
There are several lessons from this story of Elijah – lessons we can only learn in the wilderness of life. Lessons for our good. Lessons that allow us to survive and become more whole, at peace, and filled with the power of God.
Lessons of the Wilderness
One of the greatest truths about the wilderness is that it may feel isolating, but we aren’t alone. God is waiting for us to stop running so He can meet us and revive us with what we truly need.
In the wilderness, we are given the opportunity to swallow lies and half-truths. The wilderness is not always avoidable, but it’s also not forever. It has a purpose to prepare us for the next leg of the journey and to give us a gift that we might then give to others.
How could God be calling you to help others in their wilderness?
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