Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel, “call it quits,” or even run away from life? As I look back at my childhood, I can remember numerous times that I tried to run away from home. As a kid, I was rebellious and believed that I had the worst mother in the world. There was one occasion that I was determined to live in a cabin two miles from my house that was often deserted during the winter months. After a few short hours, I was so hungry that I had to give up, go home and find something to eat. There was another time that I talked a friend into venturing into the woods behind my house so we could live in a shelter made out of tree limbs and plastic sheeting. Once dusk hit, we were so cold and scared that we ran back to my house as fast as we could, holding on to each other the entire way.
As I look back at my childhood, I can laugh knowing that I was just a typical middle-schooler who lacked judgment and couldn’t see past my current life circumstances. Although I’m no longer a kid, I must admit that I still face times in life when my perception is wrong and I am tempted to run away. A few years ago I was standing in my kitchen holding tightly to my car keys, contemplating whether I should drive away and not tell anyone where I was going. My husband was in the shower, the kids were playing in their rooms and it would be the perfect time to escape. I only lived 15 minutes from an international airport that could take me anywhere I wanted. After rationalizing it all in my mind, I gave up and found a place to hide, behind the stockade fence of my townhome. I spent about an hour sobbing and pouring out my heart to the Lord, wondering “How could I call myself a Christian, let alone a pastor, and be feeling this way?” I didn’t want this “calling” anymore. I was tired of having to be everything to everyone. I loved my husband and kids, but I just didn’t know if I could live this life any longer.
I learned something about myself that day. I was acting a lot like Elijah when he lay under a tree, praying that he might die, saying; “I have had enough Lord…” (1 Kings 19). The rest of the chapter goes on to describe a 40-day journey that Elijah spent self-loathing. He told the Lord that he was no better than anyone else. He rambled on about how he was fervently serving God, and explained to the Lord that he was the only one doing “the work.” He also took the time to shift blame and point the finger at the other Israelites that weren’t following the Lord like he was. In fact, he complained about how the Israelites were rebellious and destroying everything that represented what he was doing for God. He couldn’t see any good in his life. He had no idea that God had reserved 7000 other people that were serving Him just like Elijah. He just couldn’t get past the circumstances he was facing at that moment in his life.
How many of us are just like Elijah? If you look at the things that had happened in Elijah’s life before this incident, you would be amazed that a man as great as he, could have had such a low moment. He had just been fed by ravens, watched God bring down fire from Heaven, slaughtered all the prophets of Baal and prophesied that rain would come after three years of drought. The problem with Elijah was that he was constantly on the run. He had just run about 26 miles (a marathon) to Beersheba, fleeing from Queen Jezebel. He was spiritually and physically exhausted, and no longer wanted this life of ministry. It wasn’t until he reached Mount Horeb, that he took the time to rest in the presence of God. He had been doing it all on his own strength.
My story is not much different from Elijah’s. I have a tendency to run this life as fast as I can, until I can’t go on any longer. I try my hardest to be the best wife, mother and pastor that I could possibly be. I strive to be a great leader, a light in a dark place, and the image of a healthy, well-balance woman. The greatest lesson I am learning is that I need to pace myself. It’s not my responsibility to please everyone, but it is my responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me. I will never be able to live this life in my own strength. Romans 11:29 says, “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” God has placed a call on my life that I can’t run away from. For me to live out this journey, I need to constantly spend time being renewed by the presence of the Holy Spirit.