The Lord profoundly encouraged and challenged me with a simple phrase in 1 Kings 19 that I have never noticed before. Allow me to share.
The Depressed Prophet
In this story, the prophet Elijah is on the run for his life. He feels hopeless and alone and eventually finds his way under a tree. It’s just him and God…oh and a very powerful person who wants him dead before the next day’s end. Realizing that God could still hear him in the wilderness, he says “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Have you even been there before?
Elijah had enough. He couldn’t go on any longer. He wanted God to end it right then and there. So he fell asleep hoping to never wake up again. To him, life was a nightmare.
But an angel of the Lord came to strengthen him for the journey. After the angel touched him, Elijah woke up to fresh cake and a jar of clean water. He ate the cake, drank the water, and then laid back down to sleep again.
The angel of the Lord came to him again a second time and said these words:
“Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”
This passage is known for the idea of God’s “still small voice” in verse 12. But here we see such an important part of the story: Elijah had to be strengthened by God before he could continue. The journey before him was too great. Without God’s power, he was destined to fail.
After Elijah ate, something amazing happened. The text says that Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.” That must have been some meal!
The Journey Ahead
The Lord showed me something that I badly needed to hear. The journey is too great for me. I cannot move ahead in my own power. The calling to be a husband is too great for me. The calling to serve my church is too great for me. Even the next step in my journey is just too great for me.
And yet, I often try to take that next step in my own strength. I tell myself that I just need to push harder and be more diligent and then things will work out. But Jesus tells me to come to Him and find rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
I need the nourishment that only the Lord can provide and the Good News is that He has already provided it! Peter tells us that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (1:3). Everything that I could ever need to move forward has already been given to me by God.
So how do I take the next step in God’s power?
Power from the Holy Spirit
Scripture tells us that this power comes from the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians, Paul says that it’s the Spirit who reveals God to us (1:17). It’s the Spirit who enables us to know the riches of our inheritance (1:18). It’s the Spirit that helps us know “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (1:19). It’s the Spirit who gives strength to our “inner being” (3:16) and the Spirit who causes us to know the depth of Christ’s love for us (3:17-19).
Practically speaking, this means waiting for and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. This means asking the Spirit to show us when we are trying to do things in our own power. This means daily pleading for God to strengthen us with the power that leaves empty graves behind.
If some cake and water gave Elijah strength for 40 days and 40 nights, how much more can the indwelling Spirit of God empower you for your journey?
Or as Jesus puts it, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
The journey ahead is too great for you, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can take the next step.