Friday, 03 March 2017 07:44

Get Out of the Cave!

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Last week I visited with a pastor who acknowledged he is living in a cave. He went through a painful exit at his previous church, is suffering with health issues, and his family is struggling with financial challenges. The story could represent anyone who serves in ministry. This pastor added a detail that all of us should heed. He admitted he is living in a cave (Tim’s interpretation). He acknowledged that the pain and discouragement he has experienced has caused him to withdraw. So, at the present moment he is a cave dweller.

A cave can be both good and bad. As ministers we need a man cave. It is a place where we can retreat, rest, and relax our minds. These caves take many forms: a game room, hunting, fishing, a hobby, a trip, casual reading, and the like. The man cave is a good place when the stresses of ministry press in on us.

The man cave has a down side. The cave could be a sign of deeper issues that are lurking in your heart. Issues such as resentment, burn out, emptiness, and stress could be driving you to this sanctuary. When you retreat to a cave you will begin to live an isolated life, run low on resources, withdraw from work, and live a defeated life. It is good that the sanctuary is there. However, it is imperative to recognize the deeper issues that are driving you to linger in the cave or seek inappropriate outlets? The cave should be a sanctuary, not a dwelling.

In I Kings 19 we find an occasion when Elijah entered a cave. He was depressed, discouraged, and burned out. The cave was a refuge for him. It was a place for him to rest, relax and release his pains. The cave represented the struggle through which he was passing. It was in the cave that God appeared to Elijah. The Bible says, “The word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” God recognized the unhealthy issues raging in Elijah’s heart.

Let me stop and ask you (fellow minister) several questions.

  • Have you isolated yourself from others?
  • Have you withdrawn from activities you once enjoyed?
  • Are you running low on emotional resources?

The passage in I Kings 19 reminds me of several positive steps that all ministers should take. We should have a cave as a place for refreshment. It is good that we have a cave for those times when the pressure is on. It is better to use our cave as a place of refreshment than a place for crisis management. Also, we should use the cave as a place to meet God rather than a place where God confronts. Our meetings with God should be a regenerating power in our lives.

The Good News is that God knows when you are in a cave. He knows your hurt, pain, and areas of discouragement. God does not want you to linger in a cave. He has work for you to do. My exhortation to you is to get out of the cave!

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