It would be difficult for me to number the times I’ve preached or lead a Bible Study on Elijah and the prophets of Baal as outlined in 1Kings 18. My favorite part was when “the fire of the LORD fell and consumed” the drenched offering and altar. It was fun to slam the pulpit at the same time I emphasized “fell.” People would perk up or appear startled each time I did it.
Like many preachers of my day, and I suppose today, I focused on the part of Elijah’s story that was dramatic and miraculous. I would never keep going to chapter 19 when Elijah trembled in his boots in response to the words of Jezebel and “ran for his life.” That’s just not dramatic or even preach-able after you’ve just described what has to be among one of the most sensational miracles of the Old Testament. A man, not just a man, but a prophet of God has just triumphed over 450 prophets of Baal and now, based on a death threat he cowers and runs. Not what I would have expected.
There are many times my life looks like that of Elijah – fired up one minute, then runnin’ scared the next. Whether this is typical or not, I am uncertain. All I know is that there are many seasons in my life when that seems to be the scenario. Perhaps it has to do with my level of faith or, some would say, doubt. Perhaps it stems from a lack of complete trust in God and my inherent tendency to rely on my own abilities and power. Then again, maybe that’s just the way life goes. After all, you don’t see many miracles like the one in 1Kings very often, if at all. Victory may not always find its roots in the miraculous, but in the moments we are running scared. At least that’s what I’m counting on.
I’ll confess, I’m always a bit leary of the folks who seem to spend their life on the mountain top – the miraculous. That kind of living just does not seem genuine. Then again, I could be missing the key to mountain top living and simply find myself suffering the consequences by running scared much of the time. Whatever it is, I’ll struggle to keep plugging along. I’m sure it will make sense one of these days.