I went to the chiropractor today. As I lay facedown on the table and he worked his magic, nothing popped. He pressed down on my back. Again. Nothing.
“I’ve reached perfect balance,” I said. “Everything is tight. I’m locked up equally, everywhere. I call it stressvana.”
It’s funny and also true. I’ve noticed that after a time, my shoulder stops hurting. It’s not miraculous. It’s that I’m wound so tight on both sides, neither side aches. Ta-da! Who needs a chiropractor when you can achieve zen in your own body, via your own anxiety? I ought to patent it.
It made me think of the story of Elijah, after the Mt. Carmel incident. Elijah had just been through a lot. He battled and killed the 400 prophets of Baal, witnessing a glorious display of God’s power and faithfulness. Then Jezebel, evil queen of Israel, heard of what he had done. She sent a threat to his ears: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” – I Kings 19:2
Gulp. Elijah didn’t receive the message well. He ran.
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” – I Kings 19:3-4
Elijah hit rock bottom. Discouraged, weary and emotionally spent, he wanted nothing more than to be finished. However, God had every right to get upset with him. The victory at Mt. Carmel should have galvanized Eli for a fresh war. But it didn’t. I can picture God saying, “Eli, look at what I’ve already done for you! Suck it up, man! Let’s go. I’ve got heavenly armies awaiting my command.”
But God doesn’t do that. Elijah napped under a tree, unable to stay upright any longer. An angel woke him up with fresh baked bread: “Get up, and eat. The journey is too much for you.” Elijah heeded the instruction. This happened over and over again, for 40 days. During that time Elijah traveled to a place he knew well: Mt. Sinai (I Kings 5:5-9).
God spoke to Elijah there. They had a conversation, like the one God had with Adam and Eve in the garden. God’s compassion and kindness shone through. He knew Elijah, despite his undeniable anointing as a prophet, was only human. The man had pressing physical needs and God took care of them first. Then the Lord could deal with the frustration Elijah felt.
I’ve been hit lately with this scripture.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
… – I Kings 19:11-13
Elijah could have functioned alright after some food and rest. But his heart needed healing, his spirit refreshing. God knew that and loved Elijah enough to supply it.
The problem with the false peace of achieving a pain-free life is that it doesn’t mean I’m well. It only means the physical pain has lessened in the wake of my angst. There remains another layer. I must get still before God and hear that quiet voice. If I will trust, He will meet those pressing physical needs and then we can get to the meat of the matter: my heart. I’m looking for that gentle whisper today.