The Problem with Looking at Yourself


“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.”  — I Kings 19:3


It was one of those early spring days when we look out the window and see all kinds of beautiful birds.  I saw this one that was actually pretty funny to watch.  I’m not sure it was funny for him!  I think it was a bluebird and he was hovering near a window on our back porch, just fluttering back and forth, running into the glass over and over again. 




Now, he was obviously confused and disoriented, he was going nowhere, just fluttering, chattering, and crashing into the window.  My wife said, “You know, I’ll bet he sees himself in the glass – and that’s what’s got him acting crazy.”


Oh, the poor bird.  When he kept looking at himself, he got confused and disoriented – and he kept running into things.  Just like us – when we get focused on ourselves, that is.  And maybe that’s where you are right now – the stress, the hurt, the load has gotten you focusing on yourself, maybe without your even realizing it.  And you may actually be fluttering around emotionally, feeling disoriented and discouraged, even crashing sometimes.



God’s given us a picture of what this looks in the Word of God in I Kings 19.  The great prophet Elijah has just come off the most powerful spiritual victory of his life – his showdown with 450 prophets of the idol Baal, where God proved who is Lord by consuming the sacrifice on the altar with fire from heaven.  But now the wicked queen Jezebel has ordered a “hit” on the prophet – and, man, has he changed.



The Bible says, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  When he came to Beersheba … he went a day’s journey into the desert.  He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.”  — 1 Kings 19:3-4




Now, how does such a strong spiritual leader get so low so fast?  Here’s a clue in what he says to God: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty.  The Israelites have … put your prophets to death with the sword.  I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too” – 1 Kings 19:10.  Suddenly, it’s all about me.


Now, this is in sharp contrast to Elijah’s focus when he prayed on the day of his showdown with the false prophets.  There he said, “O Lord … let it be known today that You are God … that I am Your servant … so these people will know that You, O Lord, are God” – 1 Kings 18:36-37.  See, when it’s all about God, I’m on top of things.  When it’s all about me, things are on top of me.


Fear, discouragement, being all stressed – those aren’t signs of being focused on your Lord.  These things remind us of  the picture of a bird that’s looking at himself or herself and fluttering all over the place, crashing into things.  Isaiah 26:3 says that God will keep in “perfect peace” the one who is “stayed on” Him.



Self-pity, self-centeredness, self-promoting, and self-reliance – the harder it gets, the more that “self” stuff starts to take over and the more out of control we become.  If you’ve been looking at yourself too much, it’s time to fly to a higher place where you can get your perspective back – to refocus your eyes away from your great load and back to your great Lord.


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