Last week, we looked in on Elijah during his darkest hour. He’s tired, weak and emotionally depleted. This is exactly how any writer, who is worth their salt, feels at any given moment. And I am no exception. I’ll be honest, here: I have quit writing many times. I’ve thought I should get a “real job,” like plumber. Plumbers bring true joy to people. Nothing like an unclogged septic tank to make you break into a happy dance.
My resolve has never lasted long. But here’s the question: how do you know, when you are doing a thing, that God wants you to keep doing that thing? Especially when you are overwhelmed and see little progress.
This is how Elijah felt. But the good news is that God saw the prophet in his despair and responded with some practical steps for rejuvenation.
I encouraged you toward the first two (link to previous post) in the last post. Now, consider adding these next ones to your rejuvenation-repertoire. No matter why you may be feeling depleted or discouraged, doing these things will help.
Step # 3: Get back to work. Possibly in a new direction.
Keep in mind: God might tell you to do something you never thought you’d be doing. Elijah wasn’t going to be preaching or performing great public miracles for awhile. He wasn’t going to take down the evil King Ahab all by himself. God has something completely different in mind.
The first thing God tells Elijah to do is to anoint a Gentile king (and not a particularly good one) who would eventually attack Israel and Judah and wipe out all those who failed to heed his warnings on Mount Carmel. Then Elijah was to anoint Jehu as king over Israel, who would take care of all those that the other guy missed, including Elijah’s arch-nemesis, the wicked queen Jezebel.
Long story short: “You do your job, Elijah, and I’ll do mine.”
This didn’t happen overnight. In fact, Elijah wasn’t even there to see it happen, but from that moment on, he never doubted God’s word.
The last thing God gave Elijah: a friend. He led him to seek out Elisha who, the Bible says, followed him and “ministered to him.” Now he was not alone anymore. Their friendship is one of the sweetest and most fruitful in the whole Bible.
Step # 4: Find a friend.
When I was at the point of giving up, God gave me a friend. I found her via the internet, when I went looking for an editor who could help me fix up a novel I had decided to self-publish after trying for months to get a traditional publisher. She turned out to be not only a wonderful writer and editor but a great encourager. We eventually formed a writer’s group. We meet once a month to vent, critique each other’s work, and encourage each other. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made. Having a friend who is walking the same journey as you, who can offer encouragement and correction in equal measure, is vital.
So here’s the bottom line: if one of the greatest of God’s prophets can have a major identity crisis, then without a doubt so will we. Yet perhaps this is exactly the sort of thing we need to move us in the direction God wants us to go.
So until I start getting brochures for plumbing schools in the mail, I’m going to keep doing this thing and trust God with all the rest of it. I hope you will too.
Bless you in your writing,