Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 1 Kings 18:22-26
Have you ever made a bargain with God? Perhaps something like, “If I do this then God will do that. If I promise never again to do something, God will give me what I want.” We long to be in charge and have everything go our way. When life doesn’t give us what we want, we get mad at God. Our pride ignites and we feel we should get what’s coming to us. We compare our life to others and compete for the best. Our performance is meant to bend the mind of God.
In the Mt. Carmel contest, the prophets of Baal did hours of performing. They wanted their dancing to illicit a response from their god. A frenzy spiked when there was no answer, no change, no fire on their altar. Now look at what Elijah did: he patiently waited. He didn’t put on a performance before the crowd. He didn’t compare himself with the other prophets. He didn’t get angry at God for not doing instantly what he wanted him to do. He remained humble; his pride was not at stake. He prayed and BOOM the fire fell from the one true God of the universe. The striking message from Elijah’s example is his close walk with God. There was power in the devotion lived out through their two-way communication. God spoke, Elijah listened and obeyed. Elijah prayed, God answered.
This famous showdown on Mt Carmel also represents a battle in our own lives. Are we walking with God in devotion or performing dances to control him? The beautiful truth is we don’t need to dance. Jesus died on the cross to forgive our controlling sinful nature. We don’t earn a relationship with God; it is received and accepted. It is free. No hoops to jump through, no dancing required. All the blessings of heaven are ours through a relationship with Christ Jesus.
In her book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Power, Ruth Haley Brown says, “God is much more aware than we are of how much we need “beyond words” togetherness. That is why he waits patiently for us to stop flailing around until we can relax and receive the nourishment of his presence.” Times of solitude are for noticing what is true about us and about God. It is about being WITH God in his presence. Make time to be WITH God today and receive what he has for you.
By Donna Burns