Steven Furtick - Running From Your Life
This is an excerpt from: God's Got Your Back Part 2
This is a very different story, but I should share it with you. It's going to help you to see that not only do we hear the voice of God in our moments of decision and in those crucial transitions where we have to decide what to do and where to go and whether to quit or whether to stay, but there is another voice. A lot of times, it's not the absence of the voice of God that stops you from fulfilling your calling. It is the presence of other voices that you do not recognize as the Enemy's voice until they lead you off the path of God's purpose for your life. That's exactly what happened to Elijah.
Can I tell you the whole story? "Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done…" We'll come back to that. "…and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel [after hearing how Elijah slaughtered her false prophets] sent a messenger to Elijah to say, 'May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.'" "I'm going to kill you". If there are any police officers in the room at Elevation Ballantyne, stand up. All right. Thank you for your service. Stay standing. I have a question. I'm not an officer. I'm a preacher, so I have a question for you. If you are arresting somebody, do you send a messenger or do you send a bailiff? If you're arresting somebody, do you send a messenger to tell them, "This time tomorrow, I'm going to come back and get you. I'm going to put you on death row, and I'm going to kill you"?
Do you send a messenger or do you send handcuffs? Do you send a messenger or do you send backup? It goes to show me that Jezebel couldn't back up what she was threatening to Elijah that she was going to do. (I guess I didn't need you to answer that question after all. Please be seated.) Right? So, we see from the very beginning that this woman Jezebel, as wicked as she was, as evil as she was, as manipulative as she was, as angry as she was, as petty as she was, as much destruction as she had caused, had no power over God's servant. She had no power over God's prophet. She had no power to do what she said she would do. The only hope she had was to threaten him to the level that he would abandon the place God had put him, because she knew, "If he stays, my gods can't. If he stays, God is with him. If he stays…"
You know, the Enemy knows the same thing about you, that if you ever plant your feet and decide, "This is what God has called me to do. This is what I'm going to do. This is what I'm made to do. This is what I'm created to do. This is what I'm called to do. This is why I came to earth. This is why I was born. This is why God gave me these gifts. This is why he gave me these experiences. This is what I'm here for. I'm going to do it no matter what Jezebel says about it…" If you ever made up your mind about that, you would be unstoppable. Knowing this, the Enemy sends threats, intimidation, and insecurity. Maybe you're familiar with this story, but I want to tell you the story really quickly. She said, "By this time tomorrow I'm going to kill you". She can't do it. The proof that she can't do it is that she hadn't done it yet.
I'm going to say that again. The proof that the Enemy can't do to you what he keeps freaking you out that he is going to do to you is that if he could, he would have by now. Thank you, Jesus! "So, you mean he doesn't have any power over me that my thought patterns don't give him"? That's right. Now, Jezebel is a person in history. She's a Phoenician queen. She brought idols of Baal and Asherah, and she really turned the nation away from God when she married Ahab. Look at verse 3. It is not her threat that is the most significant part of this passage, and it's not Elijah's feelings. Verse 3 says, "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life". The way that is worded gives the indication that he thought she actually could do what she said she would do. I don't believe that. I'll show you why.
Now this is just the introduction. This is just something I want you to see before we get to the part of the passage the Holy Spirit wants to illuminate for your understanding today. "When he came to Beersheba…" Do you have the picture? He has had a great victory in the name of God. He prophesied a three-year drought. It didn't rain for three years. He said, "It's going to rain". It did rain after he called down fire from heaven and slaughtered all of the false prophets. And he ran for his life. "When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. 'I have had enough, Lord,' he said. 'Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'"
It shows me that if he was asking God, who is all-powerful, "Take my life," he wasn't really running for his life, because if he wanted to die and he thought she could kill him, he would have just stayed. Maybe it would be more accurate to say he was running from his life than to say he was running for his life. Somebody knows exactly what I'm talking about, because you've been running from your life too. Not so much that God didn't give you victories. Not so much that you don't believe he's with you. Not so much that you can't point out times in your past where God came through, but it's just that… Weariness can lead to weakness if not interrupted by worship. The prophet said, "Take my life, Lord; I am no better than my ancestors".
I'm going to give you a contrast here, and you're going to find yourself right in it. You're like, "I'm not a prophet. I don't have anybody trying to kill me. I don't even know why I came out here today. This guy is telling me a story about an epic prophet, and I am just trying to get my kid back in school. I am just trying to pay my rent, and this doesn't relate to me at all". You're wrong. You're so wrong. This dynamic that I see in the story of Elijah's life encourages me that even the people with the greatest faith have to deal with the low moments. Don't let these Instagram Christians fool you. They only post the moments they're proud of. If I could follow them around with a camera just for three hours in the right situations, we would see them in this state as well.
Aren't you grateful the Bible didn't take these parts out? It would have been easy for the Holy Spirit to be like, "Nuh-uh. Don't put that on Elijah. It makes him look bad. That's bad PR for the prophet. If we want the prophet to be in the Bible, he has to be up there on the mountain. You can't put him down there by the broom bush". Look at this guy. You would edit this out of your story too. I'm telling you right now, you would edit this out of your story if you were the editor. See, the Bible cares enough about our low moments to tell us that Elijah prayed he might die. "'I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.' Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said…"
Get ready. This is about to be your favorite verse in the Bible. "Get up and eat". I gave you a verse to shout over right there. "Get up and eat". I think I'm going to memorize that one. You know how people have life verses? "My life verse is 1 Kings 19:5, part B. That's the good part". Now look. "He looked around…" The Holy Spirit showed me this. "…there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water". Man, if I had known running from God was this much fun, I would have started sooner. God sends him a personal chef. Not a DoorDash…a personal chef to the broom bush. "…there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, 'Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.' So he got up and ate and drank". "Strengthened by that food, he [went back and did what God told him to do]". No. "…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".
Did you see it, how God had his back even while Elijah was running? Did you see how God fed Elijah even when Elijah didn't have faith? Did you see how God carried you through some dark seasons of your life where you denied that he even existed? Did you see that he followed you right there into that hospital room? Did you see that he followed you right there into that divorce court? Did you see that he followed you right there to that broom bush? God's got your back. Spurgeon preached a sermon. He talked about the turned back. He talked about not God having his back to me but me having my back to God and how God will feed you even when you are being led by your feelings away from his will for your life. There by his head was the provision of God…right by his head…yet it wasn't enough to turn him around, because even though the angel dropped off the provision by his head, Jezebel was in his head.
The angel drops off the food by his head. Jezebel is in his head. Life lesson: be very careful who you let in your head. How many people won't let people walk into your house unless they take their shoes off? So what in the world are you doing on Facebook letting people walk all through…? I'm so sorry. That was so confrontational. I'm just trying to help you to see the discrepancy. A lot of times, we will protect everything more than we protect our head space. Everything. "Don't get in my car with…" Don't get in my car? You can't leave trash in my car, but I will go seek out trash on my phone. I can get a new car, but I only have so much head space. I only have so much, and I need it for my family. I need it for my church. I need it for those who count on me. I need it for my future. So, no, you can't just walk through my mind with muddy shoes. I'm not being mean. I'm being strategic, because I have a call on my life.