For as long as I can remember I have struggled with perfectionism and self-doubt. Anytime I feel like I’m not perfect, I want to quit. Combine that with my bad temper and it was not a pretty combo when I had swim meets, horse shows, or gymnastics meets growing up. I was always throwing something and storming off when I didn’t do my absolute best. Recently, this has started to bother me more and more. I started looking for people in the bible that also struggled with this to assure me I wasn’t alone.
*If you’ve got your bible, jump to 1 Kings 19*
I bring you Elijah. He majorly struggled (thank you elijah! I’m NOT alone!) with self pity at a point in his life. Elijah also lived in a time similar to now where many different religions were welcomed and people had a hard time knowing what religion to believe. Long story short, Elijah proved God was real with a physical fire when no one else could prove their god’s were real. He thought for sure he had hit the jackpot with that trick, but no one gave a shit. It crushed him. What seemed perfect, wasn't.
Elijah was a great prophet, but felt like such a failure after that. He went and sat under a juniper tree and asked God to take his life. I stopped in my tracks when I read that line. If you know anything about juniper essential oil, it helps promotes feelings of positivity, promotes healthy sleep, and overcome feelings of fatigue. Elijah was exhausted and had given up on himself. How interesting that he would sleep under this particular tree where he would be inhaling those essential oils. God has such an amazing way of knowing how to place you exactly where we need to be. What a perfect tree for him to sleep under; Elijah needed sleep AND positivity. Elijah awoke to an angel that fed him and gave him a drink.
Instead of giving Elijah what he asked for, death, He sent him to the mountain (a mountain not that far away that took Elijah FOREVER, because he must have been disobeying and wallowing around in self-pity). On that mountain Elijah saw hurricane, earthquake, and fire…but God was not in those. Those would’ve been to obvious.
“And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 kings 19:12
God came in the whisper, not in the wind of the hurricane, or the earthquake, or the fire. As my mom likes to say “God came in the back door.” Elijah told God he had worked so hard to live his best life but still didn’t feel it was good enough. On the mountain God told Elijah that he had his eyes on the people instead of the Lord, walking by sight and not by faith. Elijah had lost his faith in God’s plan. Elijah thought he knew God’s plan. In the words of the great Tim Keller "He had put God in a box." Its easy to get depressed when we think we know what God’s up to, right? That creates expectations. Of all people, you’d think the great prophet would trust God’s plan! It goes to show that we ALL struggle with trusting God, even those with gifts of prophecy, none of us are immune.
God can see down the road and knows how this will all turnout for his glory. Trust the Lord and wait patiently for His will. Listen for him in the whispers. He had important things planned for Elijah and He has important things planned for YOU. Perfectionism will never tell you that you are good enough. Trust God to take you to the mountain, just as broken as you are. He will feed you, give you rest, and remind you His plan is greater.