Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Cave of Isolation

Good Morning everyone! I want you to know that I am praying for you. I believe that God is going to grant you peace and wisdom this morning. I have been reading and studying about Elijah's life. He was a great man of God, who had an awesome anointing upon him. God used him mightily, however, he found himself in a cave, isolated from the very people that could help him. He became isolated because he thought that he was the only one left that was serving God RIGHT. Everyone else was just playing games, so he went into a cave a defeated, discouraged and depressed prophet of God. Listen to what God told him:

1 Kings 19:13-17 When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, "So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?" (14) Elijah said it again, "I've been working my heart out for GOD, the GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me." (15) GOD said, "Go back the way you came through the desert to Damascus. When you get there anoint Hazael; make him king over Aram. (16) Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi; make him king over Israel. Finally, anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. (17) Anyone who escapes death by Hazael will be killed by Jehu; and anyone who escapes death by Jehu will be killed by Elisha.

God told Elijah to come out of the cave of ISOLATION and to go to work. It is a very real temptation of the devil to try to send you into the cave of isolation as well. It is a very dangerous place to be. As I was thinking on this today, a pastor friend of mine sent me an email that he sent out to some of his church members. I asked permission from him to share it with you, and he graciously granted me that request. Listen to the heart of this message…it is from the heart of God.

I love a good fire. I have a little fire pit that sits on my back patio that I just love. This time of year, as the weather is getting cooler, I keep a fire going back there almost constantly. Well, yesterday (Monday) it rained all day. The weather was miserable, wet and cold. But you know what, I built a fire anyway. I actually had me a pretty good fire going. As I sat under the little overhang outside my back door trying to stay dry the fire actually kept burning even in the rain. I had several good logs that burned quite well, put out some nice warmth, and kept burning even as the rain fell on them.

I was able to send some emails, text messages, talk to some of you on the phone, and spend my regular time in prayer, praying for you guys next to that little fire. That little fire was quite therapeutic for me. But I noticed something that happened with my fire. One of the logs rolled off and was no longer touching the other logs. That one log continued to burn for a little while, but eventually it's fire went out. The rain was just too much for it by itself. The other logs kept burning just fine. I walked over to my little fire pit and took the fire poker and moved the little log back up against the other logs that were still burning. It took a few minutes, but eventually, that log caught fire again and began to burn and add to the heat and warmth that the other logs were radiating.

Storms in life come at us constantly. As I spoke about on Sunday, we are all going through major times of crisis in our lives. I don't know of any of us that aren't facing some serious issues. But we have each other. And I tell you what, I have been so proud of how this family has stuck together through all of this. The wind and the rain has poured down over us and has threatened to put our fire out. By that I mean, our love and relationship with God. Our passion for Jesus and to fulfill his purpose. Our love and dedication for each other. The storms that we are facing are cold, and wet, and threatens to do us in. But we have stayed together. We have continued to put our trust in God. We have learned and are learning to lean on and trust each other. The danger is when we become like that little log and become isolated from the rest of the group. On our own we will become overwhelmed by the storm and the rain. We separate yourself and it leads to our demise. I need you in my life. Listen to me!!! I NEED YOU!! I can't make it without you. I know that we can absolutely not make it without God. And, while it is true that, "All we need is God," He has also given us each other. If I start thinking that I don't need any help, or I don't want to bother any of you, then I will be snuffed out and lose the battle against the storm. But if I will learn to stay close to each of you, to draw strength from your warmth and fire, then I can keep going. The same is exactly true for you.

Don't get macho on me and you start thinking, "I can handle this on my own." I know you are strong, but God has given you people around you that love you and can and will help you. That is what we are here for. Don't start thinking that you are alone and no one cares. That is a lie. God has assembled a group of people, all of us hurting, all of us in need, all of us imperfect, that will stand with you when the rain is coming down on you. You cannot afford to isolate yourself from the group. I know that busy schedules and other excuses keep us from taking the time to reach out and be around the others. But those things are what will eventually destroy us. The rain didn't put out the fire on the log. The isolation did.

I don't know how many different ways I can tell you this, but I am going to keep telling you this: You are not alone. You don't have to go through life alone. We want to "do life together." There should be no shame in asking for help, or prayer, or some other form of support. There should be great shame in NOT asking for those things. God has given us to you. God has given you to us. We all desperately need each other.

The only thing that is more troubling than isolating ourselves from the rest of the group, is allowing/seeing someone else isolate themselves. Sometimes we can look at ourselves and think, "I'm good. I've got people around me that are supporting me. Yeah, I'm going through some tough times, but God has given me a support system to stand with me and be with me during this time." And we don't even see that one "log" that has rolled off the fire and is dying (literally or figuratively) alone. We cannot allow those around us to try to "make it" on their own. We must recognize and respond to their needs. Are we in a storm and being pounded by rain? Sure we are. But we have each other. What about the person you are working with, or talking with in the grocery store, or the old high school friend? Are they alone? Are they isolated? What about the one that used to come to our church that you haven't seen in a while, that you occasionally think, "I wonder what ever happened to...." What about them? You DO have a support group. You DO have people that will do whatever it takes to support you. You MUST rely on the people that God has given you to "do life" together with. But you also MUST pay attention to those around you. Those that have been or feel isolated. Everyone needs this support group. Everyone needs to know that they don't have to try to make it alone. Who have we been leaving out? Who have we forgotten about? Who, because we have been so focused on our own issues and problems, have we neglected?

It rained yesterday. Were you isolated? Don't be. Call me, I'll come get you. I'll help you. Call the others and rely on them. Don't let pride keep you from asking for help and prayer. It rained yesterday. Who did you isolate? Who did you leave out in the rain alone? Don't let pride or self pity keep you from reaching out to those that need your warmth and strength.

I still have that fire going as I type this at 2:15 in the morning on Tuesday. I just threw some more logs on the fire. You know what happened? The fire got hotter, and the flames burned brighter. Go out and get those that are lost and cold and alone. Share with them God's love. Bring them in. You see, you will strengthen yourself as you strengthen others. Just as adding the isolated logs to the fire caused the flame on the rest of the logs to burn brighter. You become stronger when you bring more into this fellowship with you. You can do it. Stay close to the people that God has given you. But don't be so focused on yourself, that you forget about the others that are feeling alone and isolated.

I need you today. Send me an email or text just to let me know that you are praying for me. Others need you today. Send out some form of communication to let them know that they are not alone and that you are praying for them. Don't be alone. Don't let others be alone. Remember, by strengthening others, you strengthen yourself.

I love you all, more than you can imagine. I am praying for God's peace to be on you today. You can make it. I'm with you. But most importantly, God is with you. I hope that you will meditate upon this message of this blog today…YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Don't allow yourself to believe that you are. Run from the CAVE OF ISOLATION. Blessings!

Pastor Rusty