(I’m taking part in the Twitter #adventbookclub, reading “Beginnings and Endings” by Maggi Dawn. Some days there will just be a simple tweet; other times a blog post for longer thoughts.)
Today’s Bible passage is from 1 Kings 19, and describes Elijah’s journey after the dramatic confrontation with the prophets of Baal. My thoughts here are a few personal reflections, as I can’t help looking at this episode from the perspective of chronic illness and limited energy.
In commenting on this passage, people often note that a spiritual ‘high’ can quickly be followed by a spiritual ‘low’. Elijah has had a great triumph, but is now in despair and exhausted. It could be described as a ‘crash’, something we spoonies are very familiar with when we do too much and overreach ourselves.
He needs to get back to basics: “eat, drink, sleep”. He needs to take care of his body, and restore his energy levels. In this case food and drink are miraculously provided by God, and he is strengthened to continue on his journey “for forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God” – otherwise known as Mount Sinai.
A 40-day journey? Not something I would want to undertake after an energy crash. This got me thinking. “Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea” (Deuteronomy 1:2, NLT). The NLT Study Bible tells me that this distance is about 150 miles, and also that Kadesh-Barnea is about 50 miles from Beersheba – whch is where Elijah crashes. So it should only take a healthy person about 15 days to do the whole journey.
Yet Elijah takes 40 days, almost three times as long, even with the ‘bread of heaven’ to sustain him. Is this symbolic, or does it simply reflect the level of exhaustion that he has reached, and the extra time he needs for recovery? Perhaps he has to walk slowly, and keep stopping to rest.
“Eat, drink, sleep” – and don’t try to do too much all at once. Look after your body, and give yourself plenty of time to do what you need to do. Good advice for all of us, especially when our energy is limited.