Given the mental health crisis, how can Australians ‘go well beyond blue?’ Part of the solution involves recognising when we are in a dark cave of despair, and how do we leave it?
What does doing cave-time look like? Unceasing negative thoughts play on the mind. “I have a lot to give; why are doors always shut. No one recognises me? I was once prominent; where did it go wrong? Maybe you’ve suffered abuse, or severe rejection when growing up? The truth is we all do some cave-time. Yet, there is hope.
Know there is a purpose in your cave.
Isaiah chapter 49 gives hope to cave dwellers. God told Isaiah that “before he was born he had made mention of his name.” In other words, God planned and mapped out his entire life plan prior to his birth. God in his grace does this for us all. (See Romans chapter 9). We are destined to be victorious! By default therefore, you are destined to get out!
However, despite this blessed assurance, you may still say, “why am I stuck here?” God told Isaiah next: “You are a hidden, polished arrow, but a time will come for you to display my splendour.” There was obviously some delay. Isaiah responded with cave-vocab: “I have laboured to no purpose and have spent my efforts in vain!” Maybe you can relate to this. You have unfulfilled dreams. Be patient.
Isaiah had to realise God had not left him. He was simply an arrow in preparation. Our life purpose involves the sum total of all we go through in life. Each day God sharpens us. What ever happened since birth, the abuse, the bankruptcy, the addiction, the failures, divorce, the highs, etc…all can shape us to bless others.
Well used down-time in the cave will lead to up-time for God.
So, keep preparing. In knowledge. Write ideas down. Upgrade skills. Develop a learn-and-apply-it mentality. Let Jesus in to deal with shame and guilt of the past. Get a right heart with God and man. Get positive in Christ. Cave time is down-time. If used well however, down-time will lead to up-time, you’ll have a caterpillar-to-butterfly experience.
What you believe will determine whether you get out of your cave.
Believe you’ll remain in the cave and you will! Start believing “you’ll display God’s splendour!” Yesterday, I was painting to enter a top art show. I told my daughter: “Never give up; keep improving.” While working, we listened to music by Johann Bach. “Did you know,” I said, ”The New York Times once rated him as the greatest composer of all time?” He is a good example of a finished, polished arrow. He surely displayed God’s splendour to many. He persisted in belief and told us to do likewise.
Here’s two of his quotes:
1”The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”
2”I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.”
God can help us to think big.
Secondly, get out of your cave by having a big vision. In Isaiah chapter 49 he says: “It is too small a thing to restore the tribes of Jacob, I will make you a light and witness to the ends of the earth….For I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength.”
What is your vision? Hunger for more in God and set your heart on the big vision He gives. Don’t be small minded; believe for a “Not-just-Jacob-but-all-of-Israel” vision. A vision to get married or find a great job perse is too small. Think big. Think of career as a means to being “a light to nations” in the arts and entertainment, media, business, government etc…. Expand in Christ. God’s ocean-like grace enables you. Obey his voice to leave the cave. Then, you’ll testify: “My God has been my strength.”
Thinking big means ending an excuse-mindset. Excuses keep us in the cave. I know someone who has been really sick for a while. It would be easy for them to say, “I can’t do much due to being sick.” But, they refused to accept sickness as an excuse to give up. They persisted and found a treatment. It took time, but they are living life fully, despite sickness. Faith defined them, not sickness. Importantly, they’ve come out of their cave through believing and acting on their God-sized vision. God’s adding strength; health’s improving, joy is arising.
God is calling you out of the cave!
In 1 Kings Chapter 19 we see the great prophet Elijah fled to a cave in great despair despite great triumph. He said “I have served zealously, but am the only prophet left.” Discouraged his efforts to rid the land of idolatry seemed futile, he wanted to stay in his cave. Then, God revealed his phenomenal power showing him he’s in control. He adjusted his cave-thinking saying, “By the way, I have 7000 others like you!” God added: “Now get up and get on with my program and anoint your successor Elisha.”
Similarly, with the many alarming, escalating trends in the world is my service futile? No, God’s powerful. In long suffering, He desires more saved. Cave-time helps temper us in God’s meekness. In this hour we must love despite the seeming gross injustice. Understand this and you will go a long way beyond your cave. Be the arrow fired across nations, to hit your mark!
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor in Mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, for about 4 years, in the early 1990’s. He has worked as a pastor-life coach over the past 17 years. Mark is also an artist and author and has also written two books which are a collection of his own paintings, photography and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia with a voice to release your giant potential within.’ He has been counted among some of Australia’s best-selling authors since 2014 and is a frequent public speaker in various community groups, organisations and churches. He has a special grace to help people find and release what they are born for.
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many, suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, in 1990 for about four years. He worked as a pastor-life coach with Hope International Ministries from 2002 to May 2023, playing a key role in raising up leaders and elders for the local Melbourne Hope church, which lead today. Mark has also been active in conducting yearly trips to remote Indigenous communities, bringing teams for training and outreach, which he initiated from 2015. He also established a salt and light ministry to empower saints of influence in the marketplace from 2017.
Mark is also an artist and an author and has written two books which are both a collection of his own paintings, photography, and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia- With a voice to release your giant potential within,’ which are available now on booktopia.com.au and at leading book retailers. He has been counted among some of Australia’s best authors on several occasions through Dymocks since 2014 and continues to be a motivational speaker in various community groups, organisations, and churches.
He is currently pioneering his itinerant ministry to bless Indigenous people and empower the body of Christ, while working as an artist, author and speaker.