What Elijah and I have in common

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1 Kings 19: 3,4b, 5a –   Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.……….. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

I was having an Elijah day.  Tired.  Leg and foot cramps at night degrade my sleep. So when I hop out of bed more than the customary once per night, I feel FOGGY and handicapped the next day.

As you know fatigue is NOT conducive to feelings that represent reality.

I had gotten up at my customary time, knowing that I needed time with the Lord on my walk and at the kitchen counter reading my Bible and praying.  If I didn’t set TRUTH front and center in my life, I would not make it through the day teaching school and interacting with colleagues.

Even with the reminder of our unchanging God, it was still HARD.  The feelings, which seemed to originate from WITHIN me, kept up their assault:

  • I don’t really care about kids!
  • I’m too old to be teaching in a Middle School
  • But where am I going to find another job that pays this much and frees up my summer for family and friends?

Finally, I chose to ignore the feelings and NOT yield to the temptation to draw any conclusion.

I found refuge in this promise from God:  My grace IS sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect when combined with your weakness, Maria.  2 Cor 12:9 (includes my personalization!)

The next day, after a better sleep (Thank you, Jesus!) I thought of Elijah and his emotional outburst and wrong conclusions.

If you read the entire passage in 1 Kings 19, you can clearly see God’s tenderness.  He doesn’t rebuke Elijah, but causes him to sleep, then sends an angel to feed him and to invite him to sleep some more. Only then does God dialogue with Elijah and set him straight with truth – that Elijah is NOT the only believer left, but there are another 7000!

So dear friends, I am learning (and RE-learning) not to agree with or even fight feelings when I’m tired, but just to lay them in Jesus’ lap and take care of my body.  There’s plenty of time to figure things out WITH God knowing that He has promised to give me perfect power for my needs.

 

 

Lessons in the midst of suffering

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I asked a few of you this past week to pray..

in particular for a growing problem at my new school this year.  I am now under a kind of informal probation, this my 22nd year of teaching.  Parent complaints, along with specific suggestions meant to help me, have been put into writing by my principal.  The assistant principal has scheduled weekly meetings with me to track my progress as he and I discuss my improvement plan.

Since it is God Himself who has permitted these trials, I am very aware that He has stockpiled sufficient grace to get me through hard times.  As much as I would like to be immediately delivered, I expect that there are many riches to be mined as I walk through this  valley.  Already the Holy Spirit has favored me with the following gold nuggets:

1. No matter what is going on in our lives, we are to DO the will of God.  So what is that will? The first instruction that came to mind was out of Paul’s letter to Thessalonican believers (chapter 5, verses 16-18)

So what does THAT mean?  I look at this exhortation as loving encouragement/direction to nurture myself with what I’m calling “Request Sandwiches:

The first slice of bread is the exhortation to REJOICE.  That means I am to find JOY in who God is, what He has done in the past and all that He IS doing currently. As my friend Joanne pointed out, I need to focus on my unchanging identity as a beloved, adopted daughter with a permanent, heavenly inheritance awaiting me.  That is TRUTH and a bedrock on which I can rest.

Then comes my prayer to God – the meat and cheese of this food.  What do I need?  What do others need?  I’m to be talking to my heavenly Father all the time because….well..He’s a dad!  And dads love their kids!

The final slice of bread that keeps this sandwich intact is my continual thankful heart.  There is never a lack of thank-worthy blessings in my life.  All good blessings come from God.

2. Don’t make ANY decisions when tired.  Exhausted Elijah, after defeating and slaying the priests of the pretend god Baal…

…could not think clearly.  He whined to God that he was the only true prophet left and was being hunted down.(1 Kings 19:9-10)

God led him to a safe place to sleep and then by means of ravens, He fed the poor man before enabling him to run away fast from his murderous enemies.

Friday night I was chaperoning the Middle School dance, so I had stayed at school and didn’t get home until 10 pm.  In my end-of-the-week fatigue, standing amidst the pulsating beat of current teen music, I found my outlook on life itself growing dark, to the point of seeing NOTHING worth living for. (I know – that sounds like an overly dramatic pity party of ONE!)

But the next morning, after 8 hours of restorative sleep, I felt like my old self again.  And I woke up with some counsel from a friend, brought unbidden into my mind by the Holy Spirit.

3. Finally, in our daily Bible reading, Mike and I are in Exodus.  After my first tête-à-tête with the Asst Principal on Wednesday, I picked up my Bible after dinner to finish the 3 chapters assigned for the day. Exodus 30:23 was the first verse I read and the Holy Spirit made it seem as though it applied to me personally:

  • Little by little I’ll get them out of there while you have a chance to get your crops going and make the land your own.

I took that comforting promise of God to mean that gradually families will come around to appreciate what I am doing with their children and that I won’t be compared with previous French teachers.  It won’t happen all at once, but bit by bit!

Without trials, we never test out the promises of God.  Crises and problems are opportunities to practice the book learning. It’s hands-on learning.  And the comfort I am getting from dear friends and family is pretty sweet!

So I soldier on, knowing that I am certainly not alone in struggling.  Everyone has problems all the time.  Some are more painful and dire than others.   But Christians are NOT without supernatural resources. It’s stupid not to use them!

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