“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14 NASB) I remember sitting outside my apartment one evening on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. God was bringing a great restoration on my life, but fear of the unknown as well as the path I was treading had taken its toll on me. I found myself in a state of hopelessness to which I cried, “I can’t take it anymore.”
The voyage had become more than I thought I could bear and pressing on seemed unattainable. I was ready to give up and had almost lost heart through the process of my journey. Yet what I was viewing as defeat, God was deeming as stepping stones to my growth.
“Adversity is not simply a tool. It is God’s most effective tool for the advancement of our spiritual lives. The circumstances and events that we see as setbacks are oftentimes the very things that launch us into periods of intense spiritual growth. Once we begin to understand this, and accept it as a spiritual fact of life, adversity becomes easier to bear.”
– Charles Stanley
Elijah was a man who had experienced a divine miracle from the hand of God. Yet right after this marvelous event had unfolded, an all-time spiritual low quickly followed. Elijah’s life had been threatened and his faith was quickly fading. He had lost his focus and would soon find himself sitting down, hopeless and ready to quit.
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers. He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.” 6 Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 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.” 8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. 1 Kings 19:1-8
Even though Elijah had given up on his journey, God had not given up on him. The Lord would meet Elijah in his brokenness, minister to his personal needs, then attend to his fearful heart. Afterward, Elijah would hear a message most astounding from God stating, “Go, return on your way.” Elijah was directed to resume to the very path God had appointed for him to travel. (1 Kings 19:9-21)
As we continue to move forward with Jesus, there will be times when the heat will be turned up and we may be tempted to quit. Yet keeping our focus on God during such trivial times will be imperative.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Remember, the race that is set before us will never be in vain. Nor will our faith, hope and belief. God will encourage our souls while giving us His promises to move forward. Guard against letting the fogs of your life keep you from your shoreline. Stay the course and keep pressing on. Your finish line awaits you.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9 NASB
Prayer: Lord, I ask you to please encourage my heart as I move forward with You in this journey. Strengthen me daily and help me to never give up, no matter what I may face. In Jesus’ name, Amen.