There’s an epic story of in 1 Kings Chapter 18 about the prophet Elijah challenging 450 priests of Baal to a contest. Elijah starts the smackdown with an obvious but controversial statement; “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” The priests of baal agree to a contest pitting their “god” against the ONE TRUE GOD in a contest. The rules are simple, the first deity to send down fire from heaven to light their sacrificial alter gets the title and a brand new Maytag washer and dryer. (Ok, I’m pretty sure the washer and dryer wasn’t included…maybe you should go read the story.)
Being a preachers kid, I’ve heard the story so many times. It’s amazing. I love the fact that sometime during the afternoon Elijah begins to taunt the prophets of baal with sarcastic suggestions that maybe the reason that their “god” isn’t answering their prayers is because he is having a particularly long session on the toilet. Seriously.
In the end, God wins. I hate to spoil it for you…but that’s pretty much the plot of the entire Bible. God wins. Fire comes down from heaven and burns up Elijah’s sacrifice and the prophets of baal get slaughtered as their consolation prize.
Here’s the part of the story that I’d never thought much about before…
33 He (Elijah) arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. 1 Kings 18:33-35
Sometimes in the middle of asking for God to perform an amazing miracle God allows water to get poured on the wood. Sometimes he even tells us to do it. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure that makes an impossible situation even more difficult. If your life depends on a spark coming down the sky to light your fire, I’m pretty sure I would prefer dry wood. Maybe a little kindling, too. Perhaps a nice splash of gasoline. Elijah poured on the water.
Have you ever felt like water just got poured on your wood…like your “impossible” situation that you are praying about just got more “impossible-er”? (Ok, that’s gonna drive spell check crazy…but I think it sums the situation pretty well.) Have you ever wondered why God would allow it to happen?
Here’s what I’ve been thinking. What if “pouring water” is just the prelude to God “showing up and saving the day”? What if God still prefers to show himself in “wet-wood-high-stakes” situations?
Don’t give up on your prayers for God to “show up” just because things seem to be getting more difficult. “Impossible-er” situations just happen to be God’s specialty!