Monday, September 24, 2012
When You Don't Feel Spiritual At All
We’ve all been there . . . so don’t beat yourself up. You don’t feel spiritual. You don’t care about anyone but yourself. And the last thing you want to do is pick up your Bible. You’re in good company; even the giants of faith had bad days.
Elijah hit an all-time-low after achieving his all-time-success. I Kings 18-19 records this powerful prophet of God’s rise and fall. It began with Elijah’s back-to-back victories during a spiritually dark period of Israel's history—he confronted a wicked king, called down fire from heaven, killed 400+ prophets of Baal, ended a drought, and physically ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to Jezreel (a distance of 20 miles).
After these extraordinary victories, does the enemy leave him alone? No way!!! Jezebel, the king’s evil wife, threatens to take the prophet’s life.
Physically and spiritually exhausted, Elijah ran for his life, found a place to hide, and asked God to let him die. God didn’t condemn Elijah for his lack of faith. Instead, he sent an angel to comfort and nourish him. Then, he “benched” Elijah for forty days. During this time, Elijah didn’t prophecy; he didn’t heal anyone; he just walked alone to Horeb, the mountain of God. In the end, Elijah was quieted to a place where he could hear God’s whisper, and he was given his next assignment.
When we’re physically and/or spiritually depleted, it’s not the end of the world. But something’s got to give. By failing to slow down, we put ourselves in a vulnerable place.
For me, the lowest times of ministry are when I’m physically sick. Usually this follows a “high”—an outstanding event, a successful outreach, a speaking engagement, etc. Maybe this has happened to you . . . you’re blowin’ and goin’ and BAM! You receive a knock out punch and you’re down for the count. Benched. Sidelined. Momentum gone.
I’ve found this is the way the enemy usually attacks me. A broken toe, tennis elbow surgery, knee surgeries, infections, anxiety, things too embarrassing to mention—these are just some of the physical issues that tripped up my forward motion.
During these times, I struggle to want to pick up my Bible. All I want to do is climb in bed and watch endless hours of TV. Escape from the pain, escape from disappointments, and just enjoy a dull, mindless day blanketed in self-pity—this becomes my to-do list.
As a producer, I think many times I get in a mindset that if I’m not producing, I’m not valuable. The same goes for being a pastor’s wife—if I’m not reading my Bible and praying, then I’m not worthy to be in ministry.
Sometimes I think God “benches” me because I have to remember the world can go on without me. I am reminded that God loves me even when I’m not feeling spiritual or being productive.
Perhaps God, in his mercy, allows me to feel broken and experience my own humanity for my own good. I regain some necessary leadership qualities like humility, compassion, and gratefulness. And doesn’t encouragement take on a whole new meaning! One person texting or calling saying, “I missed you today” means the world to me. I am reminded that when I check on a sick friend with a Facebook message, text message, or phone call it does make a difference.
When I’m in my “mover and shaker” mode, I can become frustrated with (what I see as) other people’s lack of commitment. People drop out, get sick, lose steam . . . it happens. And guess what, it happens to me too! Suddenly, I stop judging others because I’ve taken a look in the mirror and—big shocker—I’m no different!
Thank God for these times on the sidelines; let God “reboot” you as a leader who walks in love and understanding. And just as He did for Elijah, let Him whisper words of life in your ear. Whether you’re “benched” for 4 or 40 days, you’ll be ready for your next assignment.