The Cure for Half-Hearted Love
I’ve got to confess. I’ve been wrestling with a story.
It’s Elijah. The Bible records his story with no little drama.
A record drought was well underway. For three years. And the drought was at the word of Elijah. Now, I don’t know about you, but a three-year drought would stink. Nothing would grow. Nothing would thrive. And the king of that time, Ahab? Well, he wasn’t too happy with Elijah.
But the drought was a reminder. Dry, sparse, cracked ground reminded the children of Israel of their spiritual condition. They were half-hearted. They’d turned away. Perhaps growing too busy. Perhaps hedging their bets. They wanted God and … in this case Baal, a false god.
We’re like those same children. We want God and … But our idols are more subtle. We want God and a hefty 401K. Or God and that house on the lake. Or God and the debt paid off. If we can just get those dual things, then we’ll be wholehearted.
But for the children of Israel, they’d been half-hearted for way too long.
So Elijah challenged them to a contest: meet him on the mountain and see who wins, God or Baal.
The prophets of Baal prepared their offering, a cut-up bull on a pile of dry sticks. Despite the prophets’ crying out, Baal could not ignite a fire. And their sacrifice remained untouched.
When it became apparent that Baal would not respond, Elijah stacked the deck. He cut up a similar sacrifice. He placed it on a pile of sticks, but he doused it with water—not once, not twice, but three times until everything was soaked, literally. With Elijah’s simple prayer, God ignited even the wettest of wood and turned it into a roaring fire, consuming the sacrifice.
Despite this great victory in front of the nation, the king, and the prophets of Baal, Ahab’s wife threatened to kill Elijah. He fled. He ran. He hid. Even though he’d seen God do this great miracle, a single threat from the king’s wife sent him fleeing to the wilderness.
There in the wilderness, God asked a disheartened, lonely Elijah a simple question: What are you doing here, Elijah?
That line echoes. Where are you, Elijah?
It seems that no matter how many victories God brings us, no matter how many times He’s gone before us, we are inclined to hide, to change, to run when the circumstances grow difficult. And yet, it seems that God, at the same time, is trying to remind us that no matter how much the circumstances change—no matter the earthquake, the wind, the fire, or the battle—He’s trying to remind us:
“I the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
We don’t need God and whatever else we think will make us happy. We simply need God.
Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
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Published May 9, 2022
Topics: A Life of Faith | Lessons with Bill