a hot mess, back of the cave, elijah, god shows up, hope, newsboys, sick cycle carousel, silver backed gorillas, worship
So, recapping once again, our hot mess is what brought God near. God knows what we need even in the middle of our mess and He’s just waiting for us to come and tell Him how we are feeling and that we need His help.
Now, we are going to talk about a couple of decisions we have to make when we are faced with a hot mess.
Let me start by pointing something out: it doesn’t matter if the mess was handed to you or forced on you by someone else, and it doesn’t matter if the mess was of your own making. A hot mess is a hot mess.
- Am I going to repeat or retreat?
Am I going to keep doing the same thing over and over, keep the cycle going, so to speak. Doing the very definition of insanity? Well, that would make me… crazy.
Or am I going to run to the place where I can get help. To my prayer closet or to my closest friends or to my pastor where I know I can get help, care and comfort. And even a little bit of understanding. We all just want to be understood, right?
- Am I going to worry or worship?
Worry takes me right back down the drain. It takes my mind around in circles that replay the mess over and over and I never get anywhere because (I have to steal the title of a Newboys song) it’s a sick cycle carousel that I just can’t stop or get off.
But worship – worship in the middle of the mess; worship is the way to go. It refocuses your mind on the One who is in charge, the One who can save you and meets you in the middle of your hot mess. Worship goes from songs, to attributes of God’s character – Holy, Holy, Holy – to living.
Worship realigns my priorities and gives me hope. Yes, right there in the middle of your financial crisis, your jobless situation, your eviction, your health diagnosis, hope. Let me say it again; HOPE!
We carry these things around like a badge. We even define ourselves by these things. Alcoholic, homeless, addict, unemployed, not good enough. (That one’s mine.) And these things were never ours to carry, let alone display them proudly. And in worship, we are literally transferring those things over to God.
Back to our Elijah story:
In 1 Kings 19:5-9, we find Elijah in the back of a cave. And the angel brings him food once again. He sits up and eats and goes right back to sleep. He needs rest.
Silver backed gorillas have leaders of their troops. (I had to Google that to see what they groups were called…) Anyway every year at a certain time, the leader removes himself from his troop and goes into the back of the cave to rest and sleep. The troop leaves him alone and doesn’t think this is unusual. It happens over and over, this rhythm of rest.
Our current culture does not allow for rest. It keeps us running from sun up to sun down and even then we watch tv – even binge watch on Netflix, we play on our gadgets or computer. Shoot even Facebook keeps us from resting and relaxing.
But God knew what we needed. He provided a day of rest, a Sabbath. And we don’t do it, we don’t think we need to slow down or rest. Pretty soon our Energizer Bunny selves won’t be able to keep on going. We are going to be in a hot mess whether health wise, or emotional wise, or even spiritually. This is something we all need to pay attention to, our rhythms of rest. “If you break the rhythm it will break you.” – Andrew Stocklein
And in our rest, in our broken state, in the thick of our hot mess, that’s when God comes to visit.
So God tells Elijah to go stand at the mouth of the cave. Elijah had to move toward God. (V11-13) Elijah also had to be discerning as to what “voice” was God’s. There was the strong winds, the big earthquake and the fire. And God was not in any of them. Not until the whisper did Elijah move. And sometimes God whispers, the still small voice in our ear.
In verses 13c-14, God asks Elijah what’s wrong and he doesn’t hide any of it from God. He’s sort of having a pity party. Like I’ve done everything right and now I’m by myself and they are going to kill me. Really? He thinks he’s by himself when God is right there talking to him? I mean right there!
And don’t we do that sometimes? We have these little pity parties because we think we are all alone when God promised ever to leave us or forsake us.
Notice God’s response. He doesn’t even acknowledge Elijah’s feelings. He doesn’t correct him. He doesn’t pay it down. He simply moves forward with Elijah. Gives him instructions going forward.
“The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus,…” 1 Kings 19:15
He sends Elijah back the way He came with a purpose. With instructions for a new task. Sometimes you have to go back in order to move forward. You have to get up and get out of bed to move forward. What’s your bed?
God will never waste a pain.
And we find in this, in the working through the past, that every hot mess has a purpose.
Your pain has a purpose. It may be character building, it may be freeing you from a false belief, it could be for you, or even for someone else.
So, in recap, your mess is what brought God down to meet you. Our mess is what we all have in common. We have to acknowledge out hot mess to God. We have to move toward God. We have to get up off our beds. God meets us in the middle of our hot messes. He uses our hot messes. And lastly, God gives us instructions to move forward.
I hope these blogs encouraged you. I know they did me, for sure. Because on any given day, any of us could be in the middle of a hot mess.