Crawl Away From Crazy
February 8, 2009
All right, thanks for being here today. Thank you so much for being here. By the miracle of technology this is going to be seen at all of our campuses, we’re very, very excited about that, because whenever you hear the word disciple – a word that some of you are familiar with, a word that maybe some of you aren’t – a disciple is a learner. And at Fellowship Church, I’m thrilled, because we have a bunch of incurable learners. We learn through high-definition video, we learn through live teaching, we learn through different video, short films, we learn through songs, we learn through dramatic readings, we learn through all sorts of things, so welcome to Fellowship Church. We’re packed full of disciples. And we’re full of incurable learners.
Well, today I’m going to talk about something that everybody deals with. I’m going to talk about depression. Now, when I just said everybody deals with depression, you might be going, “Well, I’m not dealing with depression right now. I’m not feeling down in the dumps right now.”
You will. Some of you are dealing with depression. And this message is directly to you today. You can apply this right where you are, because the Scriptures are going to get all up in our chili as we talk about what depression is, the cause of it, and the cure of it.
Now, if you’re saying, “Ed, I’m not depressed.” One day you will definitely need this stuff so make sure you take it and download it. Or maybe you know someone in your family, or you know someone at work who’s dealing with depression.
I’ve been fascinated since I’ve studied depression. I’ve been blown away as I’ve looked at depression throughout the Bible. Because so many people in Scripture dealt with depression. So many of the great matriarchs and patriarchs, the great men and women of God, dealt with despondency and feeling really, really down.
What is depression? I mean, when I throw the term out, what am I talking about? Depression would be considered an intense feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that leads to sadness. Helplessness and hopelessness that leads to sadness.
And I’m here to tell you that all of depression is not sin. Yeah, if your rebellion before God has led to depression, that is sin causing depression. But so much of it, in fact, most of it is not a sin. So isn’t that cool? It’s not a sin to be depressed.
So if I’m depressed, I’m hopeless, I’m helpless and it leads to intense sadness. Well, today’s talk is going to be about giving hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. I want to talk to you up front, I want to give you the raw and real, the 4-1-1 you might say about depression.
The guy we’re going to talk about that got depressed might shock you. We’ve talking about him over the last little while. His name is Elijah. Elijah lived a phenomenal life. And we discovered that Elijah went to Mount Carmel and Elijah had this miracle occur in his life. He was facing all of these wicked prophets. And he had this ‘God’ contest. God rained fire down – the Jehovah God –and consumed an altar. Elijah, by himself, opened up a can and took out 850 pagan prophets. So it’s like a once in a lifetime miracle that he experienced.
Well, if we had ended his after God’s fire show, after that crazy thing, I’d be going, “I can’t identify with Elijah. I mean there’s no way I can connect with him. I mean this guy is up here; I’m down here.” Most of us would go, “Wow, I mean that sounds good, but this is totally and completely unrealistic.”
However, Jesus had a half brother named James. James wrote a book. And James said in – in James 5:17 – I love this – “Elijah was a man just like us.”
Now I can identify with that, can’t you? Because if God paints a portrait of a man or a woman in Scripture, not only does he paint the good, he also paints the bad. He gets very, very detailed. He paints the warts and all, the receding hairline and all, the blemishes and all. And that’s something we can all go, “Wow, I like that.”
Elijah went through a serious bout with depression. He had this phenomenal faith. But also, he went into a phenomenal funk on the heels of this miracle.
So think about your life, after the wind-fall, after the big deal, after the big game, after the whatever, so often that is when we’re tempted. Or so often that is when we can slide into this feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that leads to intense sadness. That’s when we can experience depression. And that’s precisely what happened to Elijah. So what happened?
If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of 1 Kings 19. Now, 1 Kings 18 is when the fire fight happened and God dominated Baal.
Well, 1 Kings 19 begins with that pit-viper of a wife Jezebel. Jezebel was married to Ahab. And the last decision Ahab made was, “I do.”
Jezebel, after having all of her religiosity and all of her Baalism bashed, put a hit out on Elijah. Now think about that. Here’s Elijah, he faced 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. And now, the Bible says, he is running like a scalded dog away from one woman. What’s up with that? He’s facing 850 people who were cutting themselves and who were slashing themselves, and now, one woman says, “I’m going to kill you,” sends a messenger to him that tells him, and he looks at his watch and goes, “You know what? It’s beer-thirty!” Because he went to a place called Beersheba. He ran as far as Beersheba.
And the Bible tells us that Elijah did something that I can do and that I do and that you can do and you do that will always lead to depression and despondency. Do you know what it is?
It’s the first stage of it. Exaggeration. You’re off a spiritual high, or you’re off this role or this victory or this mountaintop experience when you go down into the valley, usually you begin to do what? To exaggerate.
Because think about this dude, man. He had used his physical body to the limit. Stood up and preached before squillions of people. Stood up against the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. Then, and I don’t have time to get into it, he ran a marathon, outran a chariot, back to a place called Jezreel. The guy physically was just wasted. Emotionally, don’t you know he was so tired. Your heart go out to our boy. And then, spiritually. Think about the spiritual warfare that was going on. The gods – lower case ‘g’ –of Baal and Asherah, of lust and fornication and strength and power and all of those forces. The guy was totally down.
Illus: I know what he’s talking about, because basically, every week, I go through a mini-depression. I call it the ‘holy hangover.’ Because sometimes people ask me, “Ed, do you get nervous before you speak?” And the answer is, “Yes, every single time I speak I get nervous.” If I don’t get nervous, I’m scared. I get nervous. Because normally, I put about one hour behind every minute I’m up here on stage. I mean, I put the time in. And it’s like this build-up, this ramp. It’s almost like you’re riding a wave of adrenalin.
And because every job has its own adrenalin rush, whether you’re a homemaker, a student, in real estate, if you’re a an attorney, if you’re into the a technological business, or whatever. If you’re a pastor, I’m just telling you what I know because I’m a pastor, after all.
It’s just like you’re surfing on the waves of adrenalin. Because public speaking is one of the biggest fears we have. I think first is death, second is public speaking. So I’m building up, building up, building up. And it’s something I can’t put off. It’s something I can’t say, “You know what, I don’t feel that good.” I know I’m going to have to be on, I’m going to have to say a word from God, I’m going to have to be biblical. And there are people from all walks of life here at Fellowship Church. There’s the rich, there’s the poor. There’s the down-trodden and destitute, and there’s those who are riding high. There are those who are seminary professors and who really know what’s going on in the Bible. There are others who can’t even find the maps in the Bible. I mean, we have all sorts of people at Fellowship Church. And that’s what makes the church, the church.
But I have got to tell you. I get nervous. And I get this adrenalin rush cooking and pumping in my life and I’m riding this wave and I can’t put the wave off. So after the wave is at the crest on the weekends, come Sunday night, or Monday? Oh, I feel about that big. I feel just totally physically worn out. I’m just, you know, this is kind of like therapy. I’m emotionally worn out, spiritually worn out, and I’ve made – I try to stay by this rule. I try to keep this rule – I try not to make any major decision on Sunday or Monday. And I tell Lisa, “Please don’t give me any of this bad news on those two days. I know sometimes you can’t help it, but it really would help me because I’m just frazzled and I’m fried and wow, I feel like running to Beersheba sometimes.”
So I can identify with this, and then so can you. So can you. You all have unique adrenaline rushes and you all have unique adrenalin drains. You all have unique times in your life when you’re on the mountaintop. Maybe you’re at home and you’ve got two or three toddlers pulling at your skirt all the time. Maybe you’re working two jobs or maybe you’ve got some bad news and lost your occupation or whatever. You know what I’m talking about.
Well, Elijah runs to Beersheba and here’s what he does. And this is not very wise. He drops his servant off. He leaves his servant in Beersheba. So we’ve got exaggeration. He’s exaggerating everything. “Oh, she’s out to get me. The whole world is after me.”
And, men, lets just talk for a second. One woman can seem like the whole world. Isn’t that a fact? I mean, when a woman is after you, you know what I’m saying to you?
Married men, don’t even look at your wife; you know what I’m talking about. You know what I’m saying It seems like the whole world. We can identify with this cat, man. Poor guy. Jezebel wasn’t going to kill him.
And here, he thought he was the only one left. Now is that typical? “I’m the only one. I’m the only single parent going through this. I’m the only pastor that has a holy hangover. I’m the only doctor going through what I’m going through. No one else understands. I’m the only teacher. I’m the only student with this kind of persecution and this kind of temptation.” No, no.
But if we’re not careful, we can exaggerate that and we can begin to believe what? Our feelings. Our feelings are great. God has feelings too. In fact, let me throw a verse up. It’s one of my favorite verses about feelings.
John 8:32. Have you seen this? Read it with me. “Then,” read it with me, “Then you get in touch with your feelings and your feelings will set you free.” Wow, I love that verse. That’s what Jesus said, right? If I get in touch with my feelings, then my feelings will set me free. So if I get in touch with my feelings, that’s the answer. Wow. Because feelings don’t lie.
Do you think Jesus said that? Do you think Jesus said that? That’s from the-a perversion-version of the Bible. NO! He didn’t say that! What did he say, what did he say, what did he say.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Not feelings. Some of you are going, like, “Feelings, yeah,” That’s what our culture says. No, Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
But we live like, “Oh, you get in touch with your feelings and your feelings will set you free.” Your feelings will lie to you, and they will lie to me. That’s this commotion in all of your emotions. Feelings are great, they are fine. But as I’ve told you before, I don’t always feel like speaking. I didn’t feel like putting about 30 hours into this weekend’s message. I just didn’t feel it. I don’t feel it. I don’t really feel it now.
What if I didn’t feel it. I’ll see you later. Because I feel like doing something else. How whack would that be? It’s like after Lisa and I’ve been married for a couple of weeks, if I said, “Lisa, I just don’t feel married. I can’t believe I’m married. I just can’t believe, I just don’t feel it.”
She be like, “You are! Look at your wedding ring.”
What if we lived that way?
If you want to understand what life is all about, if you want to wade through depression, you’ve got to concentrate on the truth. The truth will set you free. It’s our commitment to the truth. When feelings go up and down like a roller-coaster, we are tethered to the truth and we’re committed. Because we can control our commitments, but we can’t always control our feelings. And Elijah, he was having a tough time with his feelings.
And be very careful when you begin to exaggerate stuff. “Well everybody’s saying this,” or “I can’t believe he said that.” Or, “In the email, what did she mean?” and we get all freaked out and lose our absolute minds. That’s one of the first stages of depression – exaggeration.
But there’s another stage. Elijah’s going to do this. You can watch him. Isolation. Don’t do that.
When I’m feeling like I’m getting near real stress and anxiety and depression; when I begin to isolate and keep everybody away; when I begin to do what Elijah did, to drop my friends, my comrades, those who are close to me off at Beersheba, what did Elijah do? He dropped his friend off and he took a day’s hike into the dessert. That’s a lonely place isn’t it? And he found a broom tree. It might say in your Bible he found a juniper tree. And he was so tired and so depressed he just decided to take a nap beneath the broom tree.
If you know anything about broom trees, they don’t give much shade. There’s pretty much just room for one underneath the broom tree.
[Ed sings childhood song] “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll eat some worms. Fat one’s skinny one’s even squishy-squishy ones, I like to see them squirm. First you eat the head off then you…”
I think he was singing that. I won’t sing the rest, but the guy was. I don’t know where that came from, maybe 4th grade. You know, just things just come up. It’s unbelievable. I’ve taken a crazy pill. I think I had one before I walked out on stage.
Anyway, he was under this broom tree and here’s one of the cool things. I don’t have time to get into all of this, but poor Elijah. The guy was totally messed up with all the people he’d been trying to help and minister to. Because cannibals are not the only ones who get fed-up with people. Some of you will get that a little bit later.
So here’s Elijah running for his life and look at this isolation stage. Let me read it to you. 1 Kings 19:3-6. “When he came to Beersheba and Judah, he left his servant there while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.” Wow. I mean that-that’s depression. “I’ve had enough, Lord! Take my life…” and I love this, “I’m no better than my ancestors.”
I want to go, “Elijah, when did you start comparing yourself to your ancestors? Who started the comparison thing?”
You ever compare yourself with others? Do you want to get depressed? Start comparing yourself with others. “Oh. Wow.” Aren’t we always comparing? The Bible says it’s unfair to compare. It says to stop comparing yourself. Because whenever I compare myself with someone else, I make it a mockery of God’s creative genius. And if you compare yourself – your bank account, your house, your car, your figure, your physique, whatever it is – you are setting yourself up for intense feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that will lead to a lifetime of sadness. Don’t compare.
And then, we start criticizing ourselves. We’re like, “Man I’m no good. I’m a no-count, I’m worthless.” And we play this tape over and over and over again in our mind. That’s what was happening with Elijah.
Now, an angel was going to show up. So here is our boy. He’s asleep. And now an angel shows up and here’s what the angel says in 1 Kings 19:5. I love this. This is super spiritual. This is really, really deep. Are you ready for this? The angel says, “Get up and eat.”
Now for some of you right now, you might think I’m crazy. For some of you right now, the most spiritually and mature thing you can do is get up and eat. Because after he ate, the angel said, “Go to sleep again.” Then he said, “Eat again.” Whoa. See how God ministers to us physically? We’re exaggerating. Then we’re isolating. And God shows up and what does he do? “Sleep! And eat. Sleep. And eat.”
And the Bible said that the angel baked him a cake and some water. The water was from heaven’s well and it’s the first instance we have of angel food cake in the world. The guy had a feast, man.
A lot of us aren’t sleeping enough. I don’t have time to go there, but throughout Scripture, it tells us to get rest. We can’t burn the candle at both ends. If we do, we’re going to be burned out. I don’t want to burn out. Do you? We’re in a marathon, not a sprint. We’re finding out what happens when you burn out. The angel said, “Sleep and eat. Sleep and eat. Because you’ve got a journey ahead of you.”
So here is Elijah. And God didn’t lead him to this broom tree. He went there himself. God didn’t lead him away from his servant, away from community – he went there himself. But once he got there, God ministered to him and began to use him. And now – this is really crazy; I could preach about this for a month –let me give you the Wikipedia again. Now, he takes, are you ready for this, a 40-day journey through the desert to Mount Horeb. Some of you are thinking, “Mount Horeb, I know Mount Horeb. Sinai, right? 10 Commandments?”
You got it. And here’s what’s so interesting. This shows you that carbs are good, right? Because the angel gave him those carbs and that water. It must have been some kind of meal! And it gave him the energy to make this long journey through the desert. And he was in the same area that the children of Israel were in and they got manna from the sky from the hand of God. And then of course, we know that’s where Moses got the 10 Commandments.
So I think it’s kind of a cool parallel just to think about that. So Elijah, again, he’s feeling better physically, but he’s still kind of feeling down and the Scripture says, you won’t believe this, when he got to Mount Horeb, he found a cave. And he went into it and went to sleep, again.
So you’ve got exaggeration. Everything is like – WA-WA-wa-wa-wa-wa. When you’re depressed, one little ‘wa’ seems like WA-WA-wa-wa-WA-wa-WA-wa. You know what I’m saying to you.
And then you begin to isolate. You get away from the people who can minister to you who can help you and then you come to a place. And then God begins to deal with you. So God led him this time to Mount Horeb. And now, he’s in a cave. We’re going to find out how to behave in a cave because he was just sleeping again.
Let me move over here to 1 Kings 19:8-12. And this is the third stage of depression. Yes, you’ve got exaggeration, Yes you’ve got isolation. Notice this – victimization. Because God allows him just to, I hate to say this, but to spill his guts and say, “Ok, Lord, here’s how I feel.” And he just went off, “Here I am, Lord.”
And let me stop here. It is great to do that with God. In your prayer, share your emotion. Share your feelings with God. The book of Psalms. Have you ever read the book of Psalms? David is pouring his heart out to God. “God, I want to kill my enemyies. I want to tear them up from limb to limb.”And all of the sudden he’ll segue into a praise. “Lord, I love you and you’re awesome.”
So it’s good to do that. God can take it. He knows it already, he’s not like, “What, I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize you were feeling that way. Really?”
So again, 1 Kings 19: 8-10. “So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him….”
And I love this. Here’s what God said.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Don’t you love that question? What are you doing here? And maybe, just maybe God’s asking you that question. What are you doing here? Maybe you’re at one of our campuses. God’s saying, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here? What are you doing here?” And talk about the victim. Here’s what Elijah said.
(1 Kings 19:10) “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
He wasn’t thinking about all the people he had taken out, you know, 850, when he opened up a can. “I’m the only one left.”
Oh, come on Elijah. You know what God’s going to tell him? God’s going to say, “Elijah, there’s over 7,000 of you left! Elijah, you’re doing the math and all you come up is with one. I do the math, all I come up with is 700.”
Wow! But that’s what happens when you’re depressed. He was maximizing his foe and minimizing his faith, wasn’t he? But God was just saying, “Ok, ok, just open up. Just-just spill it. Just bring it. Just bring it.”
I can understand, too, the vibe a little bit, of what Elijah was saying. Because Elijah thought, not only was he responsible to preach the word. Because remember a revival was breaking out in Israel after the fire-fight on Mount Carmel . Elijah, though, was making a mistake. He was like, “Not only am I responsible to preach the word. I’m responsible for everybody’s behavior.”
Illus: I mean, often, and again, I’ll just tell it like it is. Often, when I’m praying and preparing for a message and I know I’m going to talk about a certain topic, I know already 80% of you are not going to do what I’m preaching about. I know that. And if I let it mess me up, it could mess me up and I would go through depression and I’d be like, “Man,” and then I could say like, “Oh, I want to follow everybody around and make you do that. I want to make you treat your wife or your husband the way you should. I want to make you with you with you kids. I want to make you get involved at Fellowship and make you bring your kids up here to age appropriate teaching.” But I can’t do that. In fact, I don’t want to know what a lot of you do during the week, because it’d make me so depressed I wouldn’t want to come back next weekend.
So I’m just responsible as a pastor to do to teach truth. Before God, “God I’m going to teach your truth in an uncompromising way.” And the Bible is the word of God, it’s the lion, it’s sharper than a two-edged sword. And that is what I’m called to do.
But the moment I get into this Elijah mentality, where I think I’m responsible – depression. An intense feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that leads to sadness.
So, again, I’m not responsible for our response. But Elijah thought he was. That’s why he was depressed.
Now look down to 1 Kings 19:11-13. The Lord said, I love this. He’s in cave now. The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain.”
Wow. Eat. Sleep. What are you doing now? Go out, God said, and stand on the mountain. So he walks out of the mouth of the cave and he stands on the mountain. And that’s the first thing we need to do if we’re ready to cure depression. We need to stop.
Illus: How many bus drivers do we have in the house? Have you ever driven a bus, anybody? You know, if you cross a rail-road track, they tell you to do three things, right? Stop. Look. Listen.
Say it with me, “Stop, look and listen.” Keep that in your frontal lobe, right quick. Ok. Stop. God says, “Go and just stand there, Elijah. Because my presence is going to pass by.”
So then God plays a little bit of Earth, Wind and Fire. [Ed sings an Earth, Wind and Fire song.]
If you’re over 40, you’re like, “Ed, that was pretty good.” The others are like, “Who are they?” Go on iTunes and buy their greatest hits. It’s real positive music. You know some of the music now is so down. Earth Wind and Fire was positive, encouraging! “Shiny star for you to see, what your life can truly be.” I love that.
So God played some Earth Wind and Fire. I’m not lying to you. He sent an earthquake, wind and fire. God wasn’t in the earth, wind or fire. And here’s Elijah just standing there. He’d stop.
Oh. But now it gets cool. 1 Kings 19:12. “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
And when Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face, went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. And then a voice said to him, again, I don’t have timeto cover all of this, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
The second time! And now, God tells him to do something. Stop, look and listen. But here’s a cool thing. God ministered to him physically. We see him minister to him emotionally, spiritually, and check this out. “Go back the way you came.”
You want to mature, you want to get over depression? Go back the way you came. And you know what he did? Elijah anointed people, one being Elisha who was a servant and the successor to Elijah. He anointed three people to help get the Baal out. Because when you get the Baal out, right, you’ll get the hell out. Because everybody is talking about the bail out. But no, no, here we’re talking about the ‘B-A-A-L’ out. Because when you get the Baal out, you get the hell out.
So God used him and he listened to God, and he responded to God. He went back the way he came. He anointed these people to help get the Baal out. But it even gets better.
Look at 1 Kings 19:18-19. God reminds him again. He’s says, “Elijah, you’re not the only one, brother.”
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.”
He found him. If you want an Elisha in your life, you have to go find him. You have to get up out of the cave, you have to stop, look, listen and do what God tells you to do. You get your eyes focused on God and off yourself and then God will force you to focus your eyes and challenge you on others.
You know the great psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Menninger was asked one day, “Dr. Menninger, What is the number one cure for depression?”
And everybody in the classroom thought, “Oh, he’s going to say, you know, meet with a psychiatrist for two years, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.”
Here’s what Dr. Menninger said. Dr. Carl Menninger said, “The cure for depression is to go home, get outside your house, lock the door, find somebody in need and help them.”
Wow! He was just repeating what Jesus said throughout the Scripture. We serve God, we love God, and then we love others.
Are you going through depression? Are you feeling hopeless and helpless? Find an Elijah. Find an Elisha. Go out and walk into a Christian counselor’s office who has a biblical anchor. Talk to some godly physicians about the depression that you’re dealing with. Don’t keep napping under the broom tree. I mean, it’s cool to nap, but make sure to get some rest. Eat well and healthy, and begin to stop, look and listen. And God will lead all of us through depression. And man, that’s crazy how God works.