Game on. The prophets of Baal go hoarse screaming, “Answer us Baal!” Meanwhile, Elijah is getting a good laugh on the sidelines, taunting, “Louder, fellas! Maybe Baal turned down his hearing aid. Louder!” And sure enough, they shout louder and longer. They even slash themselves until they’re gushing blood. Yikes! But the heavens are silent.
Elijah up to bat. He calls the people to him, and amazingly, they actually come. Perhaps they are frustrated. Perhaps they just want to see Elijah fall on his face.
Elijah is surrounded by 950 blood-soaked prophets and a mob of idolaters. Alone he stands for the true faith in YHWH. What if YHWH doesn’t pull through for him? Is he scanning for an escape route … just in case?
Au contraire! So sure is he of God’s power and willingness to intervene that he ups the ante. “Fill the jars of water! Douse the wood!” They saturate the altar. “Do it again!” They do it again. “DO IT AGAIN!” Water cascades over the altar’s edge, forming puddles at its base.
They must be thinking: this prophet is insane! Elijah, buddy, just so you know wet logs don’t burn! Body-slashing wasn’t enough to compel Baal to breathe fire; will you make YHWH’s job even harder?
But Elijah is not afraid, because he knows exactly who YHWH is! He does not pray for God to validate him before the people. His motives are crystal clear: “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O LORD, art God.”
Alas, at times we feel like wet logs, and this causes us to falter. We sincerely believe Christ can do all things. Yet the difficulty comes when we contemplate our own weaknesses. We think we are not well-spoken, or brilliant, or wealthy, or creative enough to be used by God.
And you know what? We’re right! We’re not.
But God’s Word brings incendiary Good News. It doesn’t matter how combustible your raw material is: God’s holy fire can set you burning, if only you believe unconditionally. Look, it worked for Elijah:
“Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD is God! The LORD is God!’” (1 Kings 18:38-39)
So trust in God. Trust in yourself. Not because you are strong but because you are united to Christ, who is everything. When you are feeling ill-prepared on the stage of life to give a good Christian witness—in catechism class, on the phone with a fallen-away friend, in the grocery store checkout line—tell Jesus:
“Lord, I lay down my fears before you. I let go of my worry. In exchange, I beg you for the grace of an unwavering faith in you. Despite my littleness, come in power and use me to be your instrument. Though it is nothing, here is my best, Lord, offered in love for you. Take hold of this wet log, Lord, and set the world ablaze!”
By Andrew Dalton