When one of our daughters was in second grade, her school teacher mentioned an issue that she’d observed. Our daughter had begun to limp. She complained about her leg hurting, especially at night. She was going through a growth spurt like many children tend to do, with every hem of her clothing attesting to that fact. In that way of parents who don’t want to blow up a small thing, we watched with some niggling worry and chalked it up to “growth pains.”
But when the teacher mentioned it, the niggle in our stomachs grew to alarm. We took her to the doctor and tests were done. By the time we got the all-clear, she was running like the wind again, without pain.
I remembered my daughter’s limp this week
I remembered my daughter’s limp this week as I read about another kind of limp mentioned in the Bible. It showed spiritual hesitation, a conundrum of sorts between loyalties.
And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”And the people did not answer him a word. (1 Kings 18:21 ESV, emphasis mine)
Elijah’s Mount Carmel Victory is a great story of God’s power and might. It’s also a story of rampant idolatry and evil. Wicked King Ahab and Jezebel ruled a country in the grip of drought and famine. During that time of hunger, Jezebel housed and fed fifty prophets of the god Baal and 400 prophets of the god Asherah. At the same time she killed the prophets of the One True God.
Elijah invited the Baal worshipers to a show down on the mountain.
Sometimes, we find ourselves torn, as if two conflicting forces pull on either side of us. And we silently limp between two different opinions. When both sides claim righteousness on their side, in the middle there’s uneasy confusion. Efforts to pacify both sides beg compromise, which can dilute truth.
And so, Elijah suggested a contest of sorts. It called for sacrificing a bull on an altar.
“The god who answers by fire—he is God,” Elijah said. (Verse 24 NIV)
Baal’s 450 prophets got first dibs on the bulls. They prepared their bull on the wood without lighting a fire. The Baal worshipers called on their gods. But there was no response.
“Maybe he’s sleeping,” Elijah suggested.
They ramped it up, shouting and slashing themselves. They frantically yelled, “O Baal, answer us!” (verse 26) But there was no response. No one heard. No one answered. The day wore on.
… And they limped around the altar that they had made. (1 Kings 18:26 ESV)
Likely their limping became not just a metaphor of their hearts, but complete physical exhaustion. Still the wood didn’t light.
Those of you who know the story, remember how magnificently God responded when it was Elijah’s turn. The lone prophet repaired the ruined altar, dug a trench around it, and dumped water on the logs three times until the trench overflowed.
A few wet logs, 450 prophets of Baal, and a wicked king and queen could not stay the hand of God. When Elijah called on God, fire fell from heaven and burnt up the offering.
The Bible brings clarity to what is right and wrong. It draws lines between evil and righteousness. As a body of Christ, we are pulled in different directions by differing opinions. But we have an anchor. It is God’s Word. We don’t need to be pulled in different directions when God clearly states His will and truth.
Are you limping around something today? The Word of God speaks the truth of God. It is an unwavering moral compass, our trustworthy authority. We don’t need to be pulled in different directions when God clearly states His will and truth. Click To Tweet
Elijah’s prayer reveals another thing. Elijah had higher goals than winning an argument. Even though he felt like the “last man standing,” he wanted victory to bring glory to God and spiritual revival.
Elijah prayed, Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again. (1 Kings 18:37 NIV, emphasis mine)
Sometimes my prayers stem more from wanting to prove I’m right than a desire for God’s righteousness to be known or for the return of His people.
May the heart of our prayers be for the spreading of His glory, not our own.
Elijah’s victory really wasn’t his at all. It was God’s. Our society and culture wars against the absolute truth of God’s Word. Sometimes even the body of Christ limps along by aberrations that murk the Bible’s teachings. We can forget the battle is not for us to win. It belongs to Him. May the heart of our prayers be for the spreading of His glory, not our own. Click To Tweet
He is the Ultimate Victor. We can walk with steadfast steps.