"I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I alone am left, and now they are trying to kill me, too." 1 Kings 19:10
A couple weeks ago, I preached on this passage. I gave a message that was a simple reminder - you are not alone! Here's Elijah, warn out, burned out and depressed. He pretty much sets aside his mission, goes off by himself, and ends up in a cave. He's not impressed with the wind, rain, lightning, fire - only in the silence of a small voice does he emerge from his cave to encounter God, and repeat this message of his own despair.
What God follows with though, after his commissioning of a new task, is to remind Elijah of this - "YET I will preserve seven thousand others in Israel who have never bowed to Baal or kissed him!"
The message for Elijah is simply that despite how he feels, he is NOT alone. And it's not simply that - God's there. I doubt Elijah ever questioned that. But knowing that God is there with us is NOT necessarily enough. I mean, isn't that part of why Jesus came? The "hand" of God, the "voice" of God, the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day of God, simply were not enough. We needed that physical, human example - FLESH. And now, we need the flesh of others, other Christians, the human touch so to speak, as a reminder that we are not alone.
I realized something today about this. I've always fancied myself as somewhat of an intra-extra-vert. Someone who belongs in the middle. I enjoy being with others and yet I also enjoy time on my own. What I've realized this past couple weeks, and especially today, is that this is not the truth.
I've always been told that you can recognize whether you're an intra or extra-vert by where you "gain energy from." After spending time with people, are you excited, or is it draining. Well, I always reflected on how tired I was after events and spending time with people and figured it was more evidence that I kinda have that balance. Yes, I enjoy being with people, but the truth is, I both gain and lose energy. But this week, I've struggled with that human contact. I've been looking to connect with more people here at the church and it's been a mixed bag. I didn't realize how proactive I'd need to be. It's taken more time than I had expected, and therefore, I've been drawn out longer than I expected and it's highlighted the fact that I NEED that contact.
Today, I had a wonderful lunch with another local pastor, a guy who has planted a church in the area a year ago. It was great. I then went straight into a meeting with our co-pastors. It's a "business" meeting in the sense that we plan, calendar and catch each up on our areas. But it's not all dry and boring. We laugh - it's enjoyable. And after 2.5 hours between those two meetings, and some looking ahead to continuing education events with other friends - I realize that I'm a DEFINITE extravert. I absolutely need those times of human interaction to keep from ending up like Elijah - wasting away in a cave somewhere. I need to be reminded sometimes that there ARE others out there to connect with, who WANT to connect. And people out there who God is calling me to connect with - who I am uniquely prepared to connect with. The fact that I also enjoy being alone, being quiet, doing my own thing - I think is simply evidence that I am a healthy extra-vert. But if I dwell on that too much, it can easily become unhealthy. That's where I think Elijah was, and I recognize in myself, that's where I need to be as well - connecting with people...