“But [Elijah] himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O YHVH, take my life , for I am not better than my fathers.’” 1 Kings 19:4
From the title of this post, you probably have visions of a pity party or a melancholy exploration of someone else’s pain. To a degree you are correct but the end result is good news, so stick with me.
I am a man who has struggled his entire life with what the Father wants him to do. I remember even as a child staring off into the distance in a moment of existential wonder and pondering what I was and who He was. It felt as though my brain tapped into another realm. I use the illustration that it felt like I was looking out of my eye holes instead of my eyes. I look back and realize that in that short moment, I was touching eternity because I attempted to understand what the entire universe was. However, it scared me to no end how vast everything felt and how small it made me feel.
In the past few months, the Father has been revealing so much to me about myself. He is leading me to explore my pain and the sins of my past in order to confront the lies this type of behavior creates. With a steady stream of gentle encouragement, He is encouraging me to see His provision and to finally submit my wounded spirit to Him. When I felt myself being called to the ministry, I was vastly under-qualified by the world’s standards and definitely by the Bible’s standards. Congregational ministry was a challenge that I had not expected and many pitfalls arose that triggered so much of my pain and shame. Eventually, I broke under His hand and relinquished the position of pastor. It was a very difficult decision but thankfully it was made for me.
An enemy was dwelling within me that hid itself behind my personality to well that I thought it was a part of me. When it was confronted, the mask fell off and the truth come forward that my shame had been revealed. No, it wasn’t a demon, and no, it wasn’t a result of abuse. It was a simple and painful place of pain that was the result of self-rejection. When you observe the world and the universe, you see a lot of flaws inherent in the fallen world. I see how sin has wrecked this world and to see the same sin within myself and to face my fallen nature has been too much to handle for so long. When I began pealing back the layers of that emotion, I was both surprised and not surprised at what I found. Pride and arrogance was dwelling there.
I didn’t measure up to my own standard of perfection. I realized that my pain came from my pride and shame eating each other. It was a weird revelation because I muttered to myself,
“Oh will one of you win, already! Hurry up and decide who will come out on top so that I can be who I am going to be.”
What a weird reaction to this battle. I didn’t ask that they both be killed. I asked or the winner to step forward. I realized that I was content in my brokenness. HOW MESSED UP IS THAT?!! I spoke quietly to YHVH,
“Oh my Father, this simply will not do. Why am I choosing the winner of two losers?”
I realized in that moment that shame was winning. Because pride would never allow me to have the revelation. But shame would not let me heal, either. Shame wanted me to stay broken. I was in bondage. Whenever I was truly vulnerable and acted how the father wanted me to, the way I was created to, I would attack myself and the Adversary was more than happy to pile on.
“Who you are is just garbage. I suck so much! Why do I even try?!!”
Shame had been revealed and worst of all, it had been accepted. I wanted to lay down and die. I wanted to stop everything and stop the ministry the Father had made me for. I can lay down all of my motivation and vitality and adopt the predictable and mundane and my soul will slowly wither away into a depressed cycle of “later, rinse, repeat” that will never get me clean. Well, the heck with that!
Father, I submit this pain to you. I hate the feeling of powerlessness to heal myself but that feeling always points me back to you. I have suffered and destroyed myself and my calling for so long that I want to function. I want to walk in peace. I want meaningful relationships. I want a good marriage and I want to be a good father, like you.
I have done everything to destroy your presence in my life. I have pushed you away, chosen unclean things, and ignored your conviction of my spirit. I just wanted to die. But you refused to end my pain with death and that frustrated me so much. Why won’t you just reject me like I have rejected myself? Why won’t you tell me that I am worthless and why won’t you just cast me away?
John 12:25 - "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
To quote Captain Jack Sparrow, “Well that’s just maddeningly unhelpful.”
I want you to destroy this life that I hate and now you are telling me that because I hate it, I get to keep it? You know what this reveals in me, Father? It reveals that I don’t truly know you. I don’t know what you can do. I don’t know what to do. You have broken my will. What now?
Psalms 56:13 - “For You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living.”
Live….. Breathe……. Pray…….. Worship……. Serve………. Obey……. Love……..
All of my pain is designed to point me to a healer. Darkness is designed to make us seek the Light. Sorrow is designed to lead to repentance. And love is what He does and is.
You who are suffering, seek His face and His healing. Seek to understand His heart and how much He loves you if you can. You can’t understand how much He loves you, but try anyway.
Cole Davis and Other Contributors