She sat on the edge of a bench by the side of the lap pool wiping tears.
“It has been a year,” she said as I hoisted myself out of the water, “a year since I started my concept paper and it still isn’t finished. No matter what I do, it isn’t enough for the instructor. I have edited over and again…rearranged the content it endlessly. Every time I send it back, I think, ‘This is it. I have nailed it this time.’ and each time, it is returned to me covered in marks.”
She told me of late nights before the computer, of sick days and vacation days taken from work in pursuit of the final stage of her doctorate.
I listened to my friend by the pool and saw in her traces of Elijah on the run from Jezebel. If you don’t know the story, it goes like this: Elijah, the man of God, had just scored a huge victory on Mt. Carmel. Jezebel wasn’t happy about it and sent him word that she wouldn’t rest until she took his life. 1 Kings 19:3 tells us,”Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
He ran on and on into the desert until he collapsed. There, utterly exhausted, he prayed-
“I have had enough, Lord, he said, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then, he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. 1 Kings 19:4b-5
What follows is amazing. God allows Elijah to sleep for awhile, then he sends an angel to him. The angel awakens him and provides him with food. Elijah eats, drinks, and goes back to sleep. The angel allows him to rest again and then awakens him to eat again. Afterward, Elijah travels to Mt. Horeb to meet with God.
“You know”, I said to my friend. “I had a day recently when I felt a bit the way you are describing. I wrote in my journal that there are moments when a girl has to just stop, eat chocolate ice cream out of the container with a spoon and watch Netflix for awhile.”
Ultimately, of course, we need to hear from God, but just like Elijah, there are moments when that just can’t happen until we check out of the battle long enough to catch our breath.
God know this about us. I think this is at least in part why He included this beautiful story of Elijah’s desert weakness in scripture for us. After all, if mighty Elijah found himself exhausted, afraid and filled with despair, who are we to question our need for rest in times of crushing need?