Our Standing Can Still Our Struggles

Jeff emotions, grace, theology

Last night I finished up three consecutive nights with some dear people at a nearby church who had invited to come and share the Word with their flock.  We spent those evenings focused on the life of Elijah in chapters 17-19 of 1st Kings.  Personally, I was refreshed to get reacquainted with the biography of that rustic preacher from a no-name town who would eventually become the most revered prophet Israel knew until John the Baptist appeared on the scene.  His life holds many lessons for those who love God, His glory and His kingdom.  Elijah’s life exemplifies boldness, humility, living in meagerness, waiting on God’s timing, courageous confrontation and faith-filled prayer.  Probably lesser-magnified is that Elijah also pulls back the curtain on the ugly issue of emotional rock-bottoms among believers.  He was one of several of God’s servants seen in the Bible who, at a personal low-point, wanted their lives to end.  Elijah was a man of God who experienced the dark, suffocating cloud of depression.

Interestingly, Elijah powerfully endured the dry and scarce life at the Brook Cherith & the humbling anonymity of Zarephath (1 Kings 17 & 18) where God put his ministry on pause and removed Elijah from the place of purpose and power.  Elijah endured those times and was used of God in less dramatic ways than some of his previous and ensuing more notable moments as a prophet.  Elijah grew in the difficulties, endured the unknowns and obeyed the voice of God when God did reveal specifics to him.  Eventually, he emerged from those difficult circumstances with his faith intact and his commitment to God unwavering. But when dramatic victory found Elijah at Mount Carmel, when the fire fell from Heaven and vindicated Elijah’s life and ministry, when he triumphantly thundered in the face of God’s enemies,  when nobody could deny that he was righteous and the spokesman for God … he immediately afterward entered into a spiritual depression which he simply could not shake. The victory took him to a high place in life and ministry which left him tired, spiritually-spent and worrying that he had not performed to a level that compared well with others who went before him (1 Kings 19:4).  Elijah had somehow been infected with the syndrome where he was comparing himself to others or, perhaps, to unreasonable expectations of himself.  He plummeted downward heavily and quickly.  It would take a personal and deliberate work of confrontational grace to strengthen Elijah.  God did not leave him in his weakened state.  The Creator proved Himself, yet again, to be the Helper (1 Kings 19:4-21).  God’s great work was to persist until He rescued Elijah from Elijah.

Grace is the only thing which prevents this in your life.  God has granted you an unspeakable identity in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus Christ, you are complete (Colossians 2:10), accepted (Ephesians 1:6), righteous (Romans 3:22) and beloved (Romans 1:7).  Despite the pressures of our culture and the superficiality in much of Christian religion, you are not in competition with anyone.  Yours is not a performance-oriented standing before God – yours is a gloriously settled standing through the life of Christ.  You may not only discover from day to day that you are not THE BEST, you will likely discover that you are often not even at YOUR BEST.  God loves you no less.  He does not amp up His acceptance of you when your life is free and flowing.  He does not diminish His commitment to you when you stumble or flounder.  His commitment is to Himself and He is working to perfect that which concerns you.  Leave off today from trying to out-Christian others in your life.  Cease from frantically checking off your personal list of Thou Shalt’s.  Live the way God has designed His twice-born children to live: free, fearless, expectant, hungry and at peace because of confidence in who Jesus is and what He has accomplished.

Your Savior has cleared the pathway.  He knows the direction.  He has been there before so He is precisely, acutely aware of the place to which He leads you.  Honor Him by trusting Him today because that is where the bulk of His plan currently resides for you.