Rekindling Our Hearts for Service
I have a friend who was once a part of a certain ministry. I could tell that he was passionate and committed in his service. But I noticed that he lost heart serving there. So I asked him, “What happened?” He gave me a lot of reasons and, in my own judgment, they were generally valid.
I am a part of a campus ministry since January 2008. I have experienced the highs and lows of the ministry, and have experienced personal highs and lows with the ministry. In those low times, I felt I wanted to give up on the ministry. I just had enough. But by the grace of God, I got through those times. And as I remember them, I ask myself the same question: What happened?
But making a deeper reflection, I believe that a better question would be: Why such thing—losing heart in service—happens?
Losing heart in service is true for me, my friend, and for a character in the Bible. Let’s turn our Bibles to 1 Kings 19:1-18. It’s about the prophet Elijah.
Series of God’s Display of Power
We first encounter Elijah in chapter 17. He predicted that a drought would come (17:1) and it would last for a few years. In fact, it lasted three years (18:1). But in this time of famine, God provided for him through the most unexpected means—he drank from the brook and was brought bread and meat by ravens (17:6) and a widow supplied him with food as God had commanded (17:9).
In verses 15-16, he ministered to this widow’s family, and there was food every day for him and for the woman and her family. In verses 17-24, the woman’s son died but Elijah raised him back from the dead.
In 1 Kings 18:1-40, he challenged the prophets of Baal. He will call to God to call down fire, and Baal’s prophets were to do the same with their god. And “The god who answers by fire—he is God” (v.24b). In the end, Elijah won and had Baal’s prophets slaughtered. Then in 18:41, he predicted the end of the famine.
Elijah Loses Heart
Elijah predicted the coming and the end of a drought. He had food and water during the famine. He ministered to a widow and her family. He raised a dead boy back to life. He shows incredible courage and challenged the prophet’s of Baal and won. God had used him so mightily. He just had a successful ministry.
But in chapter 19, when Queen Jezebel had heard that her prophets have been killed, she vowed to kill Elijah (v.2). And Elijah ran for his life (v.3). And look at what he said in verse 4c:
“I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
Elijah loses heart. I understand him, but I also don’t understand him. I understand that he had to run away because his life was threatened. But I don’t understand that after a series of God’s display of power and spiritual victories, he suddenly lost heart. The question is: Why such thing happens?
This is my personal answer: Elijah was human. He experienced physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual exhaustion. He was frail and limited. Even God himself knew that “the journey is too much for [Elijah]” (v.7). And we are no better than him. We are just like him.
The Whisper of God
So the question now is: How do we rekindle our hearts for service?
Let’s go to verses 11-13, where God dealt with Elijah at Mount Horeb:
11The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
When Elijah heard the whisper, there was life again in him. He acknowledged the presence of God. And after that, and after his running away, by the grace of God, God used him mightily once again. He was restored and was appointed to anoint three other people (vv.15-18). He was back in service.
Sometimes we are so concerned with the “wind”, and the “earthquake”, and the “fire”—things that are spectacular. We get so caught up with corporate worships, and conferences, and retreats, and Christian concerts, and mission trips, and outreaches, and small groups, and other events imaginable—that we miss out the “whisper”, the very presence of our Lord.
I have no practical advises to give you. But only this question: Are you sensitive to the whisper? It is when we quiet down our hearts, turn away from the noises and distractions around us, and remove the unnecessary things in life, that we get to hear that small low voice of God. It is in our private times of sweet fellowship with God that we get to rekindle our hearts.
We will face times that we’ll be tempted to lose heart in our service, and even in our very lives. In fact, we would even lose heart at some points. But my prayer is that when we are tempted to do so, and have already done so, we will rekindle once again our hearts for service, unto the glory of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.