What to do when you’ve fallen off your mountain
For the past four years in a row, I’ve gone on a retreat in Oregon over Labor Day weekend. This year’s retreat was my favorite. I heard from God, experienced His creation, got to know new people, and had zero cell service. It was great.
Then I got home.
Now, September was a great month. I live a privileged, fun, creatively stimulating life, and I even enjoy the challenges. Most of them.
First, I came home to a pest problem at my house. As of this writing, the treatment has happened but the follow-up check has not, so I’m hoping nothing … comes back.
Then I took perhaps a little too long to reenter the working world after returning from Oregon. I don’t necessarily regret this, but it didn’t make life easier.
Then I hurt one of my dear friends, not intentionally but in a way that was completely avoidable and inexcusable. Thanks be to God, she forgave me.
Then I started to realize how hard it is for me to “meal prep” instead of grabbing takeout or fast food all the time. I’m not a fan of cooking — at least not when it’s crammed in among other tasks — and every weekend, it seems like something comes up that puts meal prep on the back burner, pun intended. Then I keep putting off cooking during the week because I’ve got too much going on.
I’ve also started to realize how hard it is for me to save money (see above reference to takeout and fast food). Even when I know in the back of my mind that I can do Something Big later if I abstain from buying Something Small now, I usually buy the Something Small and hope for the best. Send help!
If all this sounds like a bunch of whining from a millennial, I’m aware. I don’t know how people with kids do it. You have to take care of yourselves AND them? Yeah I’d like to have kids, but I’m not exactly impatient for it to happen.
I guess if there’s a purpose in my writing all this, it’s to let you know that if you don’t have it all together, you’re not alone. I see you, I feel you, and in many ways I am you.
You might also remember Elijah, God’s prophet in the book of 1 Kings.
At Mount Carmel, Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal to a showdown: They prepared a sacrifice and asked Baal to light it on fire. Elijah did the same, except he prayed to God — and, he drowned his sacrifice in water before praying. God won the showdown in dramatic fashion, and the people of Israel said, “The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” (1 Kings 18:39) Then they captured the prophets of Baal, and Elijah executed them. This looked like total victory.
Then evil queen Jezebel heard about it, and swore to kill Elijah within 24 hours. He ran away and told God, basically, “I’ve been very diligent in my work for You, and now I’m the only one left who worships You, and they’re trying to kill me.”
He’d just seen God’s fire consume a sacrifice that was soaking wet and surrounded by a trench full of water — yet Elijah somehow feared Jezebel more than he trusted the Lord.
I came back from Oregon on a spiritual high. I knew the Lord is God, He is lovely, He has my best interests at heart, and He is good. Then I got back to my messy house, I got back on I-55, I got back to calendars and schedules and junk mail, and I slid down Mount Carmel pretty quickly.
But I also know God is still whispering to me as He whispered to Elijah in that still small voice. I’ve heard it when I’ve read His Word (though probably not as often as I should). And I know His mercies are new every morning. I’m not beating myself up, my attitude is better than it could be, and I’ll count that as progress.
So whether you feel like you’re enjoying Mount Carmel or running from constant ugliness, give yourself grace and a good long look at Jesus, and let Him help you move forward.
Must-reads this month:
• Our cover story on Doug and Elaine Williams
• Barb’s column on singleness in the church