A couple months ago I was driving on one of the busiest streets in our city when I lost all power in my Jeep. Of course, I was also in the center lane of a 5 lane road nearing 5 PM. The engine cuts out. The stereo shuts off. The steering wheel locks up. And there’s not one light on the dashboard. I turn the key. Nothing. I turn it two more times and still nothing.
My wife would like you to know that she had been warning me to stop driving this vehicle for awhile.
True, I had been experiencing one problem after another and before I could fix one thing, like the AC blower, something else would go wrong. You know, normal stuff, like the horn honking at 2-second intervals while you’re driving. She did convince me to stop sinking more time and money into this thing but I like to push the limits.
And now I’m sitting motionless while traffic races by and a few people tell me I’m #1. So I tightened up my seat belt, said a few carelessly chosen words in disgust and punched the steering wheel. I look down at the dash to see if it will, at last, give any indication of the problem.
One lone word:
As in, “stick a fork in it” done.
As in, “just walk away and don’t look back” done.
As in, “throw a match on it” done.
I lowered my head in acceptance of defeat. I was done too.
Honestly, there are entire days when I feel like stopping right in the middle of what I’m doing and saying the same thing.
“I’m done.” “I just can’t do anymore.” “I have no fight left.”
Maybe you’ve been there or said that too.
“I’m so done with today.”
“I’m done with these kids.”
“I’m done with this marriage.”
‘I’m done with this job.”
‘I’m done trying.”
“I think I’ve had enough.”
If you’ve ever thought that, felt that or said that, you’re not alone.
I’d been spending some time reading through the life of Elijah for a few weeks when all of this happened. Elijah was fortunate to see God do some amazing things and he experienced some unbelievable victories.
He stood courageously and fearlessly against the leaders and false religions of his day. With the odds stacked against him, God showed up mightily on his behalf and he won a literal mountain top victory.
Just when you think Elijah would be celebrating and basking in this triumph…
Just when you think Elijah would be re-telling the story to anyone who would listen, an interesting thing happens.
He runs for his life.
He runs because one woman, albeit a very angry and evil woman, threatened to take his life. She brought doubt, fear, and despair right to his front door, and he opened it. And then he ran.
And when he finally stops running, he speaks four clear words to God.
“I have had enough”.
I can rephrase that in two words: “I’m done.”
In return, God asks Elijah a penetrating question: “What are you doing here?”
I can read that in a couple different ways.
Mentally and Physically – you’ve had enough and you’re ready to quit; you even want to die. “How did you get here?”
Geographically – you traveled from the far North to the far South, completely out of the jurisdiction of the evil Queen…and then you went a little bit further. “How did you get here?”
Metaphorically – when you crossed that border and kept going, you left your post and you left behind my people. “How did you get here?”
It’s possible that all those things are wrapped up in the same question.
But let me ask you if you’re feeling like you’ve had enough and you’re “done” – how did you get here?
For many of us, it’s Exhaustion.
Elijah is clearly depressed and possibly suicidal. He’s been through a lot. Three and half years of intense spiritual battles and climbing mountains. He finally lays down and falls asleep.
I know a lot of people who are living under prolonged stress. The demands of everything – work, family, church, social life – are wearing us down. We don’t have enough time, money, patience or balance in our life to handle it all. I’ve been there before where I’ve thought, “I have had enough”. I was just exhausted.
Others of us reached “done” because of Isolation.
When Elijah finally stops running, he tells his servant and companion to stay behind, and then he continues to walk another day into the desert. Alone. When he’s at his lowest point, he walks away from his closest ally.
There is a tendency for a lot of us when we’re dealing with stress, pressure and even feelings of loneliness, to further isolate ourselves from people. Rather than move towards people we often say, “you wouldn’t understand.”
Still, some of us might be in this place because of Exaggeration.
Elijah had just beat 850 of the best of wicked Queen Jezebel’s men in a showdown on the mountain. And yet he’s afraid of her. One person is able to convince him to believe that he’s no good and thinking “I am the only left”. We know he’s not the only one and there are 1000’s of others on God’s side. But he exaggerates the problem and it becomes a monster.
It’s so easy to lose perspective at times. It’s easy to focus on the negatives and start to let our minds wander into worst case scenarios. Exaggeration usually sounds like this:
“I’ll never be…”
“Life will always…”
“It’ll never get better.”
When we’re tired and alone and allow problems to grow bigger than they really are, it will eventually lead us to say, “I’m done.”
If any of this gets close to describing you, I want to offer 3 assessment questions to consider when you’re living on “done”.
What recharges and refuels me?
Elijah is in terrible shape, but notice how God treats him. There are no angels dropping in quoting Bible verses. God doesn’t shout out that it’s time to get up and get moving. I heard John Ortberg say once that God treats Elijah like you do a cranky 2-year-old: “here’s a Twinkie and some juice; have a snack and take a nap.” Once he does that the story tells us that Elijah was strengthened enough to go on for a 40-day journey.
Can we talk about sleep for a minute? I know for a fact that a lot of us are living on credit in this department. That might be okay for a short period of time, but you can’t run at a continual deficit. Eventually, you have to pay it all back or suffer the consequences. I had a professor in college who would tell us that “the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”
In addition to getting enough sleep, we need a Sabbath. I personally need to find moments in each day that I can press pause and do something relaxing. But we need that full day each week where we do nothing…or something that recharges and refuels us. Is it exercise? Reading? Working in the garage? Gardening?
You and I are the only people who can control this. So if you sense that you are living on “done”, ask yourself:
What recharges and refuels me?
Where do I go to feel God’s presence?
After Elijah takes his 40-day journey he ends up on a mountain range that many scholars agree is the mountain where Moses received the 10 Commandments. So this mountain has a history as a place where God has spoken before.
And one of the things God does here is to remind Elijah what things are true and what things are false. They have an exchange in which God counters the lies Elijah has been believing, with the truth. And at the end of the conversation, he’s invited to stand in the presence of God. Instead of a loud and demonstrative showing, I notice that when Elijah is at his lowest, God speaks the softest. He is in a place where he can hear the whisper of God.
Do you have a place you can go to feel God’s presence and hear his voice?
Is it in a worship service? Is it worshiping alone? Do you have a Bible in one hand and a coffee cup in the other? Is it with friends?
Where do you go to feel God’s presence and hear his voice so you can regain perspective on your life?
There is no place like the ocean for me when it comes to feeling God’s presence. But it might be the mountains for you. Or on a bike ride. Maybe sitting on the porch.
Everyone needs a place where they can get with God and listen for his voice so they can replace the lies we tend to believe with his truth.
Is there something God still wants to use me for?
God speaks to Elijah because he wants him to hear something. He has something specific he wants him to do. Many times in Scripture we read about a “Call” or “Commissioning” on someone’s life. This is kind of a re-call OR a re-commissioning.
“Elijah, go back the way you came. I have new leaders for you to anoint. I have a new prophet for you to train.”
I love how God is asking him to retrace his steps and go back to where he is supposed to be. And he does. He goes back down that mountain and begins a whole new chapter in his adventure with God and he does it in the place he was originally called to serve.
When we’re living in a place where we are “done” with our lives, it’s easy to think that God is “done” with our life too. But when you recharge and refuel, and place yourself in position to hear from God, I think you’ll find that God still has plans for you.
So, do you have a story when God called you to something in the past? Can you remember why you said “yes”? Maybe just gaining a renewed perspective on life can give you the power to recommit to what God has asked you to do.
Or for some of us, it just might be that God is preparing a new assignment for us.
Elijah could have continued to run, hide and eventually flame out. But he lived the rest of his life on a mission from God. And he literally went out on fire. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
When you feel like you might be “done”, just know that God is not done with you.
He’s not done with your marriage.
He’s not done with your family.
He’s not done with your gifts and talents.
He’s not done with the things he has planned for you.
We might get down, but we’re not done.
By the way, I learned recently that “done” is what the dashboard says once the system has had a chance to read all the possible troubleshooting codes. After a little rest and some prayer, I turned the key one more time and I had power!
I was on my way for a little bit longer.