Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wet wood...

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Now come to me.” So they gathered around him, and Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one stone for each of the twelve tribes, the number of Jacob’s sons. (The Lord changed Jacob’s name to Israel.) 32 Elijah used these stones to rebuild the altar in honor of the Lord. Then he dug a ditch around the altar that was big enough to hold about thirteen quarts of seed. 33 Elijah put the wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood. 34 Then he said, “Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the meat and on the wood.” Then Elijah said, “Do it again,” and they did it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it the third time. 35 So the water ran off the altar and filled the ditch.
36 At the time for the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah went near the altar. “Lord, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,” he prayed. “Prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show these people that you commanded me to do all these things. 37 Lord, answer my prayer so these people will know that you, Lord, are God and that you will change their minds.”
38 Then fire from the Lord came down and burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the ground around the altar. It also dried up the water in the ditch. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell down to the ground, crying, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” (1 Kings 18)

Most are familiar with the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. There had been no rain in the land for 3 years and as far as the king was concerned, Elijah was to blame. (Guess he chose to forget that he had taken to worshiping idols.) After 3 years of this, Elijah returned and it was time for a "show-down" between Elijah and the God he worshiped and the king with the gods he chose. The challenge was simple. Build two altars and prepare the sacrifice then see which god/God would send down fire and burn it up. The prophets of Baal did their best to get the attention of their god but nothing worked despite the fact that they tried all day. Now it was Elijah's turn.

Elijah started by rebuilding the altar and, well, you see the "rest of the story" above. God consumed the sacrifice and all around fell down to worship The Lord, God. Lately this story has been on my mind, in particular one specific part. Elijah didn't just prepare the sacrifice, he used wet wood!

Now anyone who has ever tried to build a fire knows that you just can't use wet wood. You may get smoke, you may wear yourself out, but you are not going to get a fire unless you find a way to dry out your wood. The other day I was watching one of those survival shows and the people were stuck in the swamp. They wanted to make a fire because they were cold and tired, but the problem was all the wood was wet. To make matters worse, it started to rain! Any wood they thought they might be at least a little dry got soaked before they could gather it. Wet wood = no fire. Nothin', nadda, zippo, zilch.

But Elijah purposely had them soak the wood, maybe just to prove that nothing is impossible for God; then he simply asked. Fire came down, burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and dried up the water around it! When they saw this, the people around fell down and worshiped God.

I don't know about you, but lately I've been feeling a bit like my wood was wet. I remembered the fire of God but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't seem to get it rekindled inside me. Life had dumped water on me till I was just plain soggy and the thought of fire inside was but a distant memory. 

But something is happening. Though my "wood" is wet, I can feel that God is up to something. We may be bringing wet wood but God is getting ready to start a fire that cannot be ignored. An "all consuming fire." One that others will see and it will cause them to worship God. (I love that part. It's not the wood the people worshiped, but when it caught fire, they sure did worship the One who caused it to burn!)

So how about it? Are you feeling it too? Life may have dumped a LOT of water on you and your wood is just plain soaked, but you can feel that stirring that something is about to happen. I don't know about you, but I am ready. Let's watch God start a fire, wet wood and all. 

I'll bring the marshmallows.

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