Running Off to Join the Circus

I’m standing in the shade of an elephant’s backside, shovel in one hand and pail in the other. In my memory, the circus smelled like cotton candy, felt like straw underfoot and sounded like a big brass band. The reality probably smells more like straw underfoot, feels like stepping on cotton candy (but squishier), and the toots are not coming from musical instruments. Even in my imagination I’m too practical. I guess the answer to my problems is not running off to join the circus. Sigh. If only life were that simple. Me and Dumbo against the world.

While it may sound ridiculous for a fifty-something woman to pack her bag and hit the road, I cannot believe I’m the only one who thinks about it. Mid-February is the dead of winter, especially in the Colorado high country. The snow begins to fall in earnest in November and carries on through May. While summer troubles are at least bathed in sultry breezes, winter troubles sting the heart like an icy, wind-driven snow. I wonder if the circus goes south for the winter?

It’s times like this I’m grateful for the discipline of my morning meeting with God. Turning my attention to Him, I ask for help in bringing my thoughts in line with His (2 Corinthians 10:5) as I relax with my daily readings. Oswald Chamber’s meditation this morning is entitled, “Taking the Initiative Against Depression.” Together we revisit the prophet Elijah as he’s running from the evil queen Jezebel.

Elijah was a prophet of renown who had already predicted a drought, called down fire from heaven, and raised the dead. He and the Lord were tight. If God had performed miracles through my own hands, I’d like to think I’d never get depressed. But even after all he’d seen the Lord do, Elijah hit the wall.

Elijah was afraid and 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 desert. He came to a broom tree, 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 tree 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 a cake of 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 traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
-1 Kings 19:3-8 NIV

Of this passage, Chambers writes the following:

“The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive- only material things don’t suffer depression…When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable…as soon as we rise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.”
(Excerpted from My Utmost for His Highest, February 17)

I found Elijah’s story and Chamber’s observations to be comforting on several levels:

  •  Even those who are tight with God sometimes founder on the rocks of fatigue.
  •  Rather than becoming irritated with Elijah, the Lord sent comfort- an angel, a cake of bread, a jar of water- twice.
  •  The gifts of God can be more than bread and water, or even the touch of an angel. The one gift I needed most today- encouragement- fell into my lap when I sat down and did the most ordinary thing.

I’ve decided it’s not a great day to run off and join the circus. The snow just won’t let up and I hear the roads are awful. Ringling Brothers plays Philly tonight and then they’re off to New Jersey. No offense to my Jersey readers, but I was thinking more along the lines of Hawaii. No, I think today is better spent taking a nap under the broom tree. Who knows what I’ll find when I wake up?

© Rachel Ophoff 2011, Coconut Mountain Communication LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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