Eat. Sleep. Talk With God. Find a Friend.
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in Greenville Airport right now, heading home after a few days in Greenville with several women in my denomination who do work similar to mine. It was a beautiful few days of keeping company with one another, seeing one another’s joys and pains, eating and drinking coffee together, laughing together, learning from one another, and offering one another a listening ear.
I’ve struggled to find habits of rest and renewal that help me carry on in the work God has given me.
And as I prepare to head home to Cincinnati, I keep thinking of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. Elijah (God’s prophet) has just gone head to head with the prophets of Baal, and God has proved himself mighty through Elijah (1 Kings 18). But the wicked queen is unhappy and wants to kill him.
That brings us to 1 Kings 19. Elijah is on the run from the queen, and he is DONE.
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
And he falls asleep. And he wakes up and an Angel of the Lord offers him food and water. Then, he falls asleep again, and the Angel of the Lord again offers him food and water. And we learn that the Angel has been strengthening him for a journey to meet with God.
So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
And then the next day, he meets with God. And their conversation ends with God sending Elijah to meet and anoint another prophet.
There’s a lot to unpack in that story, but over the past year, the Lord has used it to instruct me in how to cultivate joy and resilience in my work (my paid job, my mothering, my neighboring, etc.).
At the heart of it all is keeping company with the God I love. That’s the hinge of this story: Elijah’s encounter with God.
But sometimes, I’m too tired and hungry (literally and metaphorically) to even muster the strength to meet with him. So, I need to sleep and eat; acknowledge my finiteness and tend my physiological needs so I can converse with Jesus when, like Elijah, “I have had enough.”
Then after I an more rested and full, and have talked with Jesus, I find a friend.
The past few days were rich with resting and eating, talking with Jesus and being with friends that have callings that overlap with mine. And as I return to my everyday life here in Cincinnati, I’m looking for ways to incorporate that rhythm into my daily life. I know it’s not a silver bullet, but it’s one way to cultivate vocational perseverance.