I moved yesterday. Got on a plane and left Oregon, the state I’ve called home for the past twenty years. Most people only think of rain when they think about the northwest, but Oregon offered me so much more than rain. It gave me a slower pace of life, peace-filled simplicity, and many moments that absolutely took my breath away.
Yesterday’s bon voyage was one of them.
My flight left in the afternoon, just as the sun crested over the west hills of Portland getting ready for its daily slide off the horizon into the Pacific Ocean. From the tarmac, I watched spectacular colors rise above the Rose City painting majestic across the Cascade mountain range. During takeoff I could see all of the significant mountains – at once, for once. Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and the Three Sisters passed clearly below us. They blinked pink and winked a final stunning goodbye.
As I watched the mountains shrink from my tiny airplane porthole, I couldn’t help but get caught up in God’s farewell metaphor. The sun had set on my time in Oregon and I was off for a new adventure with Him.
The lurch of leaving behind the familiar and embracing the unknown is common in my life because I’ve moved so much over the years. Despite its familiarity, the pain of separation never gets easier and the disorienting vertigo that lies in its wake has already set in.
Turbulence and I are not friendly, but you can’t fly over the Rocky Mountains without dealing with the winds. Last night was no exception. They weren’t just any winds, however, they were the remnants of a winter storm that had passed through earlier in the day. When I landed in Colorado, it was only 8 degrees with a wind chill factor near zero. Snow covered everything.
This morning it’s so cold that even the turtles are necking to keep warm!
Oops, sorry. I digress.
Not long ago someone asked me why I titled this blog, “So Great a Journey!” and I’ve been waiting to answer the question ever since. I was waiting until we moved. I knew I’d have to confront the reality of God’s plan for me on this pilgrimage called life, and I knew it would be sorely tested once again when I left Oregon.
I was right.
I borrowed “So Great a Journey!” from 1 Kings 18-19 where Elijah, God’s courageous prophet, contended with despair following one of his greatest triumphs. This story of Elijah is one of my favorites in all of Scripture because it highlights the compassion and understanding that God has for the limitations of our humanity.
Elijah was despondent. He was depressed. Despite all of Elijah’s successes, he despaired even of living any longer and sat down under a tree to die.
How can that be?
This is the guy who had accurately predicted a three-year drought, miraculously provided food for a widow about to eat her last meal, raised her dead son back to life, and then successfully challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown in front of the entire nation of Israel.
Elijah was outrageous. He was audacious!
Ahab was king of Israel at the time and was not at all audacious.
He was atrocious.
Ahab and his horrid wife, Jezebel, worshipped the Canaanite god, Baal, and intentionally led the nation of Israel further away from the true God who loved them.
Elijah had had enough.
Fed up with Israel’s rejection of God, Elijah set up an epic competition between Baal and Israel’s God. He summoned all the people of Israel and 450 prophets of Baal to Mt. Carmel at high noon for the shoot out. After the failure of Baal’s prophets to garner any reaction from their god, the Almighty God reigned victorious. Elijah called down fire from heaven and God responded instantly by consuming the evening sacrifice and licking up any water left behind. The prophets of Baal were stunned. They all fled, but later were captured and killed.
It was Elijah’s finest hour. His finest hour!
Now all he wanted to do was lay down and die?
Elijah was tired, he was isolated, and he was D-O-N-E, done. Elijah believed that the journey God had led him on was too much, too burdensome, and too overwhelming. An angel agreed.
“The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.’” 1 Kings 19:7 (NASB)
“The journey is too great for you.” What a compassionate thing for an angel to say.
Do you sometimes feel like your own journey is too great for you? Are the decisions you face too daunting, the sorrows too deep, or the challenges too difficult? You’re in good company. Elijah felt that way too.
I don’t want my journey through this life to be “too great” for me – to cripple me. I want it to be amazing and triumphant! I want to keep this “so great a” journey that I love from becoming “too great a” journey that I can’t possibly endure. So, how do I do that?
- Stand in the truth – Elijah knew he was God’s prophet, yet he allowed Jezebel to intimidate him with threats. He surrendered God’s truth for Jezebel’s lies.
- Stay connected to other believers – Elijah got overwhelmed because he isolated himself. Leaders and prophets in particular have the tendency to isolate themselves and become vulnerable to discouragement.
- Listen to God’s voice– Elijah knew God’s voice, but allowed his fear to interrupt it. When God spoke to Elijah in chapter 19, Elijah got to talk directly with God and it strengthened him.
Well, the sun is up, the snow is beautiful, and the thermometer says it’s 18 degrees outside. My granddaughter is coming home from school in a few minutes, so I think I’m ready to embrace this new adventure.
The turbulence has stopped. We have landed.
Where’s my turtleneck?
©Copyright, 2011 by Donna Tallman.