Out of the Cave

Oct 08, 2021


Can you relate to being exhausted, discouraged, or alone in your work? Find out how these reasons for being off-mission can be addressed.

I remember hiking to the summit of Longs Peak in Colorado. The hike is characterized by the U.S. National Park Service as a 15-mile round trip climb that “crosses enormous sheer vertical rock faces, often with falling rocks, requiring scrambling [and] has narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs.”1 My backpack felt like 1000 pounds at 14,000 ft, just 289 feet shy of the summit. I had to take a break and I sat down on what the brochure would have called a narrow ledge and loose rock. I yelled down the trail, “I’m not gonna make it. Go on ahead.”

It reminded me of Elijah, whose life was threatened, had escaped into the wilderness. Feeling a bit sorry for himself he said, “I have had enough, Lord,” and fell asleep.2 He was nudged from sleep by an angel, twice, who told him to eat and drink.

8So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. 1 Kings 19:8, 9 (NLT)

Just then, my friend bounded past me, grabbed my pack, and called over his shoulder, “Com’ on, we’re almost at the top.” We spent too long at the top and when the weather rolled in, we were running down the mountain to avoid the lightening. It got real! Like when the Lord told Elijah, “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” where Elijah then experienced a terrible blast of wind, an earthquake, and a fire!3 …I can tell you, Elijah felt exposed to the elements like I did on my mountain. God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire-- He was a gentle whisper, a still small voice asking a second time, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Elijah responded, again, with the same litany of reasons for not being on-mission:4, 5 

  1. Exhausted: Elijah used the word “zealously” to describe his efforts: passionately, fervently, eagerly, intensely… Sound familiar? We often throw ourselves into our work without rest or downtime, which Elijah clearly needed.
  2. Discouraged: Though his life was threatened, he doubted God’s protection. He was also disappointed by the destruction caused by those he was to inspire. We often suffer setbacks while on-mission, inviting us to trust in God’s plan.
  3. Alone: Elijah felt alone, but wasn’t! He was miraculously refreshed by an angel and already assigned a protégé, Elisha, another prophet who would ultimately replace him. Elijah was unknowingly partnered and being equipped with an exit strategy.

Rest, faith, and help were three things that Elijah needed. He had to steal away and hide in a cave to figure that out. God met him there with a tremendous expression of power and a still quiet voice asking, “What are you doing here?” Sometimes we aren’t where we are supposed to be, like on the top of fourteener running toward tree line to avoid being electrocuted!

Are you lingering too long at the top of a mountain or hiding in a cave? Remember, God listened to Elijah, addressed his needs, and then basically told him to go back the way he came and get back to work. Don’t give up in your efforts! Get some rest, deepen your faith, and ask for help!

Sources: 1 National Park Service Brochure: Longs Peak - Keyhole Route (pdf); 2 1 Kings 19:3 NLT; 31 Kings 19:8, 9 NLT; 4 1 Kings 19:12 NLT, ESV; 5 1 Kings 19:10, 14 NLT. 

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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