When You Go AWOL, Re-enlist

“There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ” (1 Kings 19:9).

Upon hearing Jezebel’s threats, Elijah fled to the wilderness in search of isolation and safety. He did not first seek the will of the Lord, as James would later encourage us to do:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’, yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14).

Most of us take flight at certain times, and flee to what we think is safety. Many who face trouble for their faith flee to the world with all of its artificial comforts. Some prefer isolation, like Elijah. But God called us to serve Him, and will provide grace during very difficult times.

Later in this chapter, God commissions Elijah to anoint a successor, Elisha, so that the prophetic ministry could continue after Elijah’s ascension to heaven. When he wanted to run away, God sent him back to where he came. God did something very similar to the erring prophet Jonah, who fled God’s call to preach to Nineveh.

Sometimes the best remedy to depression and discouragement is to jump right back in, hopefully with renewed vision for God’s calling. God does hear our prayers, and He does count our tears (Psalm 56:8). He cares for us. But running from His will cannot have a good outcome, and always brings grief. When tempted to go AWOL, re-enlist. Here’s how:

1. Ask God to forgive you if you’ve drifted away from Him.
He will faithfully and graciously forgive and restore you.

2. Get back on your horse.
That’s right, re-enlist in God’s service with renewed vigor and passion. You may have veered off course, but you can get back on. Isn’t it great we serve a gracious God?

3. Encourage those around you to keep on with God.
We can do this with both our words and actions. But we should not undo our words by our actions. If we tell others to press forward with God, but then we beat a retreat for the exit door, we contradict our own words to them.

If you’ve fallen off your horse, get back on. If you’ve fled during difficult times in serving God, get back with it. He will receive you back, you will be encouraged, and you will encourage others with your example.

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