“Remember: you are allowed to have meltdowns.”
Oh my friends have the most beautiful hearts.
This last year has been rough, to say the least. I kept thinking it would get easier in South Africa, then LA, then Morden, but it didn’t. When I got back to Morden, I thought that after 3 months, then after February, then after my birthday, things would get easier, more clear, that life would stop feeling like a constant fight, but that has not been reality.
I think that’s okay, that the last year has been a fight, because I know it’s worth it. God is doing something. There is something important here, in the last year, in the present, and in the year that is coming. There is something important here that if I skip out on, it will steal from every single thing and person and ministry in my future. That doesn’t mean that these years, this wilderness, has been without meltdowns.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah, this great prophet of God, has a meltdown.
Elijah had just seen God’s power and justice and legitimacy in a battle against the pagan god, Baal. Gathered with the prophets of Baal, they each built an alter and agreed to pray to their God to light the offering on the alter on fire. The prophets of Baal danced and prayed and cut themselves and cried out, and received nothing from their god. Elijah doused his alter in water and prayed to the Lord, and God sent fire from heaven, showing that he is the one true God.
Next, Elijah sees God’s provision and refreshment and goodness in the drought ending.
Then, Jezebel finds out that Elijah killed the prophets of Baal and she threatens Elijah’s life. Elijah’s response: run.
Elijah has a meltdown.
He plants himself under a tree and begs God to kill him. I’ve been there, in that place where life seems so awful and hopeless that all you can do is beg God to let you die. Elijah goes to sleep and is woken up by an angel telling him to sleep and eat so that he’ll have strength for the coming journey.
God brought Elijah up to a mountain. The trek there took 40 days and 40 nights.Nothing in Elijah’s circumstances has changed, his desire to die has not been relieved.
In a cave, God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So tender. Elijah’s response: I’ve been zealous for you even though the Israelites have forsaken you. I’m the only one left and they want to kill me.
God tells Elijah that he’s going to pass by him, but first come the wind, an earthquake, and a fire – but God was not in these things. These big, extravagant things were not how God wanted to show himself to Elijah in his meltdown. Elijah had just seen this big, extravagant side of God with the prophets of Baal and with the drought ending.
How God shows himself to Elijah is in the sound of sheer silence. And in this moment, Elijah comes out of the cave and stands at the entrance.
He STOOD UP and CAME OUT OF THE CAVE. His physical position had shifted.
As Elijah is standing at the entrance of the cave, God asks him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And Elijah responds with the exact same words as he had the first time.
Why? Why would God ask him the same question twice, and hear Elijah respond the same way twice, and have the story then continue on?
The first time, Elijah was answering from a place of despair and hoplessness, knowing that very few people were following God and that he was probably going to be killed as well, so what was the point in even living anymore?
The second time though, the second time Elijah had experienced the presence of God, his peace and gentleness. He had remembered who his God is, and therefore remembered who he is. He stood up from his place of despair, and he walked out into the light. His circumstances hadn’t changed, but the position of his heart had.
God saw that it was worth it to take Elijah out of his ministry for 80 days at least to care for his soul, to remind him of the truth and of who he is.
After Elijah had walked out of the cave, God gave him his next step, but Elijah needed to walk out of the cave. He needed to remember who his God was, and to be secure in that. Elijah would not have been able to do what God was asking him to do from a place of despair.
Nothing had changed, and yet everything had changed in light of who God is.
Our God cares about the state of a person’s heart.
Our God takes time out to care for people’s hearts – our hearts are much more important to him than the work we do for him.
Our God knows how to handle meltdowns. He knows exactly what our hearts need.
Today, I had a meltdown. I was believing lies. And God knew exactly what my heart needed. He drew me away to a quiet place with him, away from my work, because I can’t go into weeks of speaking at camp from a place of despair and defeat.
He is present in our every day lives. He cares about our meltdowns. He is the peace that our hearts need.
Remember, dear reader, you are allowed to have meltdowns.