Go back the way you came

Sometime in to the “meltdown of ’06”, God decided to make me aware that not only were my circumstances and brokenness not unusual/out-of-the-ordinary nor “special,” but that those nice little Elijah-Sunday-School-stories I had heard so many times held more insight into my own turmoil and God’s plan for my deliverance than I’d ever realized.  I wrote about it months later as part of a series of things God taught me during that time (you can read about it here).  I remember feeling sheepish to say that as I read about the mighty prophet, Elijah, I truly believe he was depressed.  Clinically depressed.  What?  A mighty man of God depressed?  A man who could be God’s instrument to bring the miracle of oil to a widow who thought all was lost and then cry out to God over her dead son’s body and see life return, yet he, himself, scraping bottom, being unable to “pull himself up by his bootstraps”, unable to pray enough, fast enough, read enough Word to just “snap out of it?”

For me, even thinking that about Elijah seemed almost sacriligious.  I kinda grew up around a bunch of people who didn’t think true Christians could get depressed – unless they were doing something to deserve it.  Or maybe NOT doing something religious they should be doing.  (Brennan Manning has wisely advised we’d be better off if we quit “shoulding all over ourselves.)

“I know from experience you can be doing the work of God at a pace that destroys the work of God in you.”  Mark Buchanan in The Wild Goose Chase – Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God

I was afraid to ponder the fact that you can be working for God and hearing from Him and being used by Him, but get so physically depleted you become a danger to yourself, others and Kingdom work.  Yet, God, the God of the universe, actually seemed to have revealed it to me, for me, this Elijah-may-have-been-clinically-depressed thing.  He seemed to want me to know it happens.  As part of the human experience, there is sorrow and heartbreak and loss.  These are the risks we take for living, for entering relationships with vulnerability, for being alive.  There is, in living and loving, the good, the bad and the ugly.  There is receiving love and losing it, too.  There is joy, but there is pain.  There is acceptance and rejection.  It rains on the just and the unjust…

The Volcanic Eruption

The meltdown-of-’06 was a tumulteous time, a place of obvious disruption, a clashing cymbal’s worth of huge loss and pain coupled with bitterness and anger that would have made anyone say, “Well, no wonder you’re freaked out and totally empty.”  My skin had been melted by the molten lava of an ugliness that affected so many and the resulting ash permeated every gulp of air I tried to breathe.  Catastrophic to my heart, I could see no way out.  Until God…

The Slow Leak

But hopelessness and heartbreak,  despair and loneliness, or a blackness of the soul does not always happen during some volcanic eruption.  Sometimes there is a slow drain, a leak in the lifeline, an open door in your storehouse where bandits and thieves walk right in and begin emptying you of your resources and life.  It is quieter.  No one seems to notice. You ignore the signs yourself.   Then one day, you are in the darkness of your own soul and suddenly you hurt everywhere, inside and out, and your pain is hurting everyone around you.  The accusations and taunts of the enemy echoes throughout the hollow hallways of your heart.  You feel condemned.  Depressed.

How did a nice person like me end up in a place like this?

It can’t always be explained.  It just is what it is.  Sometimes there is no big upset to point back to, no huge event that would make people say “No wonder.”  Yet, there you are in the black void trying to act normal.   Attempting to “get on with it.”   Trying to fill it with something, anything.  Usually the wrong thing.

So maybe you know how you got here, to this place of bewilderedness because it was a monumetal event or extreme loss or ripping of your heart.  Or, you may not know how you got here bcause everything was fine, good actually and you were smack dab in the middle of God’s will when you woke up to find you’d crossed the border into a painfully lonely place, heavy and hurting, empty and parched.  The point is: it happend.  You are here. 

And just like Elijah, after going through the desert, through discouragement and fear, you are in need of refreshment.  Stop for a minute, maybe longer.  Just stay put and get some rest, healing. 

After his time of refreshment, the prophet Elijah was instructed by God to go back the way he came to finish the task of anointing the next king and get help (in the form of a young prophet) in the process. It can be a long way back, but God’s call on us isn’t finished yet.  There is something to be completed by the Author and Finisher of your faith story.  There are things you’ve yet seen unleashed for you and through you.  A surprise from God awaits you right in the very place you were once drained of life, the dry, and deserted path.  What was once barrenness will be different this time – water will gush forth and barren places will bloom.  Don’t miss it.  All is not lost.  God is not through with you.  His love will not let you go.  He is at work, even now.  Turn back.    The wilderness will rejoice and blossom…

THIS VIDEO:  From about minutes 2:30 to 5:00, you see an African desert become flooded by a mountain rainfall from over 100 miles away and the desert gets soaked and begins to bloom and is fruitful.  It happens there 2 or 3 times a year.  It’s what I see in my mind reading the words below.  And you can see how if it is true in that natural desert, that a place barren and dry and seemingly dead can come back to lush life unexpectedly and quickly, you can see it is true for you, too.  The desert and parched land will be glad…

Point me in the direction of restoration and recovery~

(adapted from a sermon from Grace Church in the UK and from the Book of Isaiah, chapter 35)

Go back the way you came…

The desert and the parched land will be glad

Go back the way you came…

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert

Go back the way you came…

The burning sand will become a pool and thirsty ground bubbling springs.

Go back the way you came…

You’re not the only one

Go back the way you came…

Build in time for rest, food and drink

Go back the way you came…

What are you doing here?

Go back the way you came…

The wilderness will rejoice and blossom, like the crocus it will burst into bloom

Go back the way you came…

Be strong. Do not fear. Your God will come.

Go back the way you came…

May gladness and joy overtake you and sorrow and sighing flee away

Go back the way you came…

Build in time for rest, food and drink.  This is probably a Sabbath-season for you, a time holy to the Lord,  for you ~ from Him.


ARISE [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you–rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!  Isaiah 60.1, Amplified

Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And the ransomed of the LORD will return.  They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.  Isaiah 35.6, 7, 10 NIV

2 thoughts on “A WORD FOR ELIJAH

  1. I have for years loved the story of Elijah and have also believed he was very depressed and in a huge amount of despair. His fix was not quick or trite. He hobbled along to wholeness. I get Elijah.

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