I love the Old Testament stories!
Just the other day I was reading about feisty old Elijah, who got fed up with prophets of a false god named Baal. It was time to put up or shut up. Each side would prepare a slaughtered bull for sacrifice. But they wouldn’t actually light the wood on fire. They’d ask their god to do that.
Problem is, old Baal didn’t come down and help, as the prophets had hoped. No matter all the dancing, praying, screaming and self-mutilation, no response. “Perhaps he’s taking a crap,” Elijah taunted. Maybe he was, but he certainly wasn't striking a match.
Then, to better prove his point, before calling on God to set fire to his sacrifice, Elijah did one more thing to prove his point. He had his servants pour water over everything on the altar. Time and again, barrel after barrel. After 12 large kegs full, the water was even overflowing into a trench around the altar.
Then he called on God to show his stuff. Scripture tells us that “the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”
So where am I going with all this?
Well, in my quiet moments, I’m reflecting on all the discouragement around me. I’m talking to people who have never been so discouraged about the news of the day, especially involving our country and its multitude of problems. Serious problems, and seemingly getting worse.
In our business of prisoner advocacy, we constantly encounter discouragement from inmates, many claiming unfair treatment, and many wondering if they’ll ever see the light of day. Friends, family and loved ones of prisoners finally shrug their shoulders in defeat as they try to battle the system. Overwhelmed by discouragement, they seem ready to give up.
To those despairing citizens, wondering where God is in our country right now…to those prisoners and their families who wonder why God isn’t listening, or doesn’t seem to be paying attention, I say: Be heartened by this Elijah story!
We’re not up to 12 barrels of water yet!
But let there be no doubt. God---not boastful, arrogant leaders or cold and uncaring systems---God is still the one in charge.
He’s there. He’s watching. He’s listening.
He’s got our back.
Fear not, for I am with you. Isaiah 41:10