“When the Journey is Too Much For You….”

resting place

Sometimes I want the sanitized version of life. I call it the “Pottery Barn” version. In this version of life, order and beauty reign. Creamy couches with massive pillows are in living rooms painted in shades of gold. Coffee tables hold perfectly aligned magazines and the odd book or two. And there are flowers – flowers artfully arranged in big glass vases on tabletops. This version has a kitchen in the background, but there are no dirty dishes – just ceramic plates and bowls peeking out of cupboards, like shy children.

This sanitized version is appealing, so appealing. It beckons me and I want to leave this urban center with its nasty homeless people. Yes. I admit it. There are times when I am irritated at the homeless lining the sidewalk every morning and every evening, always asking for more. Times when I tire of these city streets that are never clean no matter how much you scrub; the subway station that always carries the smell of bleach mixed with urine. Exhausted with the never-ending streams of humanity, always there. Mostly, I am sick of the fact that there is so little I can do to change the situation.

Recently I came across a passage in the book of Kings. It’s a passage that I’ve read before, but this time I saw it with different eyes. I never realized how much it spoke to God’s care for our human limitations, for those times when we want a more sanitized version of life.*

Elijah is sick of it all and he feels alone. Perhaps he too wants a life where order and beauty reign. He is running for his life, exhausted and terrified. He stops under a tree and says “I have had enough Lord!”. He doesn’t care if he dies, in fact he asks God to take his life. He knows that he is done, finished. If there had been Pottery Barn in Biblical times, no doubt it would have appealed.

He is met, not by rebuke or disappointment, but by a God who says “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” Reading these words this past week was soul food. Those simple words, said by a God who was not just watching the journey from far off, but was fully present at every step, every stride; a God who cares about our limits as humans.

A Pottery Barn life is a wistful thought, but deep down what I really want is to know the presence of a God who says “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”

“Elijah 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.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and 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.

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.'”

*Story from 1 Kings chapter 19.


19 thoughts on ““When the Journey is Too Much For You….”

  1. I’ve reread this this morning and I’m reduced to tears. I’m so weary. I’m so tired. I cried loud sobs in the shower and reminded God that I am done. I’m finished. And then I read this from you. Thank you Marilyn. I love a God who says rest, who remembers I’m frail, who reminds me to eat. (Usually I hang out with the fictional imaginary deity who pours shame on me and cajoles me to get up and get to work!)


  2. Thank you for your words and your authenticity spoken out of weariness. I too have been weary in this year’s journey and am finally feeling the refreshment that His rest and provision has brought. May you be fully present in His rest.


  3. I recently spent a few months living in the liminal space … the middle of move 17 with the AF, across the Atlantic back home to the States. In this year of transition, the second quarter journey was just shy of too much for me and I thought I was close to breaking. Thank you for sharing food that sustains. I always want more of this God who says “Get up and eat.” (visiting from Ann’s today)


    1. Oh – I so know what this is like! I remember our last move 5 years ago – middle of winter from the sun to the snow. I was done. Finished. I thought I would break. It was grace and yes, food that sustains, that got me through. Thank you so much for visiting – may God sustain you today.


  4. And I’m sure if they had tea back then, God would have had the angel make him a good pot of strong tea. Such a coincidence, Dad and I read the passage this morning about God sending Elisha along to serve him and to be mentored to carry on Elijah’s work. Blessings on your day, Marilyn dear.


  5. Even Isaiah got emotionally and physically tired of the persistent rejection he received, and said (I paraphrase), “Oh that I might fly away to the mountains to rest…). He needed a vacation bad!


    1. Exactly Joyce! I love the way you put this! I had forgotten this piece although Isaiah is another book that really gives a great picture of God’s strength when we’re weak.


  6. And then you keep on reading in that passage, and God lets Elijah know that he is not alone, as well. There are others who share his faith and concern, and have remained faithful to God. It always thrills me to go to a strange town, and walk into a church, and find others who share my faith and my values.

    And yes, when the “Journey is too much for you,” God shows up, and takes over. Not that he was ever not there. In Matt 28 he says “I am with you alway…”


    1. Vic – I’m so glad you brought up the next part of the passage. I love those words “I have reserved over 7,000” a reminder that God’s work is continuing despite everything we may feel or our myopic vision. Thanks so much for these words and the reminder that the passage goes on.


  7. Get up and eat….those are the words of a concerned mother or a caring nurse. Our Holy God’s maternity showers us with grace when life is too much. I love that.


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