Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.
Each day for the past week I've been reading that day's scripture study portion in a book I recently chose from Amazon Vine, Set Apart: Holy Habits of Prophets and Kings. It's sort of a combination book study and topical study (how cool is that?!) that had excellent reviews, I trust the United Methodist pub house Abingdon imprint, and I don't know the historical books of Judges, Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles nearly well enough.
It had to be inspired and serendipitous that the scripture passage, study, and refection on 1 Kings 19:1-11 I read Saturday evening featured the same text we heard at church Sunday morning! Everyone gets into depressive funks at times; many folks experience clinical depression. Maybe Elijah had clinical depression, or possibly he had severe existential depression—after all, he was a prophet, and you know prophecy is a heavy-duty calling! I love how this text addresses Elijah's exhaustion and discouragement with physical touch (twice!) and with an admonition to eat something (twice!)! Long ago I learned when I felt seriously discouraged and hopeless, I needed to eat something. Anything. Now! A little food of any kind would give me enough perspective to sort through whatever was happening that made me feel so terrible, and I learned I needed to have a good meal as soon as possible, as well. Or the journey will be too much...
For Sunday, 09 August – Pentecost 11 – the first reading in the Revised Common Lectionary was 1 Kings 19:4-8.
4But he [Elijah] himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors." 5Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, "Get up and eat." 6He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. 7The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, "Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you." 8He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
An angel's touch and some food sustained Elijah for a month-plus-long biblical period of forty days! At the end of June I moved from Border Town in Paradise to Urban Angels, aka Current City. It's been a long, long haul, and I'm still sorting through major chaos and disappointments of the past decades. I love the double reminder I need to eat well ("eat well" stands in for doing whatever I can to meet all my physical needs) and take care of my basic social needs, too—or the journey will be too much. After church on Sunday I uncharacteristically felt like going straight home and taking a nap, but they serve brunch every Sunday, and especially after two innings of this reading from 1 Kings I knew I needed food and literal companionship, so I noshed a make your own sandwich, salad, fresh fruit, and fresh ideas. For someone who wanted to head right home, in the end I even stayed longer than most everyone else!