It is always a place of rest, food, and shelter where the worn out soul must go to meet the God of hope. When depression and fear are met by the God of grounded reality, then we are in good hands.
Life is hard. It can grind down on your soul to where you feel just worn out. Toes trod on, mistakes made, emotions flow, and the soul becomes a vandalised derelict motel. There once was life, but now everyone drives by.
Depression and anxiety compete for brain time. One of them always wins.
But we see an oasis now and then. A desert always surrounds it that you have to go through.
Soul farers know this. They equate movement with both desert and oasis.
God provides oasis times even in the most torturous of times. But we often miss them because we have been captured by the gyrating dance of depression and anxiety.
Elijah was one that was on the run. Depression and anxiety were dancing a death waltz around his soul to the point where he cries out to God.
Ever been there?
Elijah, like so many others in the story of God, comes to a tree.
He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.
Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”
He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep.
The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”
God chose to provide shade, to touch, to cook a scone of bread, to provide water, and to give direction. God could have given up on Elijah, but that is not God’s nature. It would have gone against everything known about pure love.
Elijah had a choice. We are volitional beings. God has given us the cognitive ability to make choices. We are not puppets to an unseen hand.
Elijah chose to rest, eat, drink, and follow direction.
He didn’t choose to be touched by the angel. God initiated first contact. God always does.
A poke, a prod, a warm sense of presence, and God is there. For the most part, we remain unaware.
Choices to imbibe
That tree Elijah slept under was once a seed.
It took into itself water from a fleeting storm. It became a sponge to maybe only one drop of water, then transformation began to happen. Cells multiplied. Explosions of growth jumped out, and a fragile root took a grip of shifting sands.
Now the broom bush grown by God stood ready for Elijah to rest under.
Elijah chose to absorb the provision of God that empowered him for the next part of the journey.
Gifts for the worn-out soul
I believe God not only provided these very basic needs for Elijah’s physical well-being but also prompt a realization that God was in love with him.
That Elijah mattered to God. That God wasn’t asleep or distant.
Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?
There was an invitation in those gifts. An offering to savour the fullness of what was provided. To enjoy, really enjoy. To take in the fullness of what the senses were experiencing.
We so often eat and drink in a hurry. We even limit the gift of sleep so we can maximise the time awake.
God provides, yet we don’t imbibe, fully.
Neuroscience is telling us that ‘the longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory.’ (Rick Hanson – Take in the good)
Building these positive and good moments of savouring the good builds a resilience in your brain.
We need to train our brain to absorb the good.
A rhythm to learn
- Notice the good
Observe the simple but good things that God brings to you every day. The bread, water, sleep, flower, sunrise, sunset, rain, wind, birdsong.
- Really enjoy the moment
Stay with that experience for 20 – 30 seconds. Don’t let yourself be distracted by the next bright, shiny object. Just stay there and enjoy the smell of that rose, the taste of that bread, the drops of rain upon the face.
- Soak your senses completely
Allow this new awareness to soak into your soul. It’s a gift. Receive it for yourself. Imagine that smell of that rose wafting its way through your airways. Filling you with fragrance, God’s perfume.
- Thank God for the good
Give thanks for that broom tree, scone, water, sleep, and touch. Pray that these tangible gifts take root in your soul and grow.
- Make it a habit
Build a discipline into your life of awareness. Slow down to take in the good. When worries and fears flood in mindfully, take yourself to focusing on the good.
It is always a place of rest, food, and shelter where the worn-out soul must go to meet the God of hope. When depression and fear are met by God of grounded reality, then we are in good hands.
- Questions and Answers about Mindfulness
- Racing Thoughts can be Reined in. Here’s how
- 7 Steps To Enable A Rhythm Of Rest
- How a Cup of Coffee Changes my Life
Quotes to consider
- God is a lover, not a rapist. God cannot walk past an empty heart and do nothing. Larry Crabb, School of Spiritual Direction – personal notes.
- What I focus on gets me. Focus on the negatives/ challenges will always take me down. Focus on the positive/ good things will always give me hope
- We cannot attain the presence of God. We‘re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Richard Rohr
Questions to answer
- Is your soul worn out? What replenishes it?
- What happens in you when you hear the words ‘God is in love with you’
- That small seed of a broom tree being nourished by the creative love of God was destined for the future need of Elijah. What ‘broom trees’ do we walk by without even noticing Gods provision?
Barry is a writer, coach, and course creator that has a passion for Mental Health and Spiritual Formation.