Monday, January 3, 2011

The Final Step Out Of THE CAVE - RECEIVE Refreshment From A Friend

Back on December 13th I started the first of 10 blog postings on what I call THE CAVE (the place where ministry becomes misery) as seen in the life of the Old Testament Prophet, Elijah. After introducing THE CAVE, we saw three principles about THE CAVE; we saw four aspects of life in THE CAVE; and now we are closing this series of postings with the fourth of four steps out of THE CAVE. We have already seen the first three steps:

REST Your Physical Body!
RENEW Your Spiritual Passion!
RETURN To Your Place Of Service!

And now comes the fourth and final step:

RECEIVE Refreshment From A Friend!

For Elijah, this involved the man who would be his successor, Elisha. In 1 Kings 19:19, the Bible says,

"So he (Elijah) departed...and found Elisha!"

And what does Elisha do for Elijah? He ministers to him. He brings to him some much needed refreshment. I love the ending of 1 Kings 19:21 which says,

"Then he (Elisha) arose and followed Elijah and ministered to Him."

WOW! Now that is powerful. Elijah finally comes out of THE CAVE and one of the biggest reasons why is because God brought into his life a friend who ministered to him during his hurt. We shouldn't be surprised by this. It is a pattern in Scripture:

Jesus had Lazarus, Mary and Martha!
David had Jonathan!
Paul had Timothy!

Who do you have? Who has God brought into your life to minister to you and bring you refreshment? Accept it! Receive it! I was talking to a pastor who had gone through some very serious ministry hurts. He was still in his same position but there were many men that he considered at one time to be very close friends that turned on him, betrayed him, and abandoned him. But in spite of this, he told me about one man in the church who remained his "true, blue friend" - his "Elisha" - and what an incredible encouragement this man had been to him during the storm.

As I think of my own experience inside THE CAVE, I'm not sure that I would have survived had it not been for the refreshment of friends. Mine and my wife's closest friends were a couple who absolutely wrapped their arms around us, cried with us, prayed with us, encouraged us, ministered to us, poured into us and loved on us. There was another friend who bought me breakfast every single week and allowed me to just talk and who encouraged me daily. He and his wife became such a blessing to us during that time. There were pastor friends and friends from previous ministries who made contact with us and encouraged us. And their were literally hundreds of cards, emails, calls and visits from people within our church who showered us with love and encouragement after my resignation.

I truly believe that God brings an Elisha into every ministry life. I believe you have a friend like this. If not, I believe God will provide one for you - just ask Him to do so! The final step out of THE CAVE is just that - to RECEIVE the refreshment of a friend! And by the way, Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother!

Come enjoy life - enjoy ministry - outside of THE CAVE!

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