Ever try to light a wet piece of firewood?
In the Old Testament, there’s a story about the prophet Elijah and his challenge against 450 of the prophets of Baal, a pagan idol. Elijah worshipped the one true God, the prophets of Baal had a pagan god, and the current leader of the land, Ahab, was trying to worship all the gods. In this challenge, Elijah and the other prophets each put sacrifices on some wood and they are supposed to call upon their gods to make the wood catch fire for a burnt offering. Whichever side was successful would prove that they had the real god to follow. The prophets of Baal go first, but are unsuccessful after calling on Baal all day long. (Elijah even taunts them a bit – it’s worth reading for yourself.)
When it’s Elijah’s turn, he doesn’t go about it the same way. Instead, God has Elijah put water over the sacrifice and the wood. Not just a little bit of water, but big jars full of water four different times – enough to soak the sacrifice and wood, and fill a trench around the altar as well.
Elijah then begins to pray to God – and, wouldn’t you know it, God lights the fire, burns the sacrifice & the wood and evaporates all the water and dust around until nothing is left.
When I shared this story from 1 Kings with my ten year old son today, he said, “Well, that’s because nothing’s impossible for God, right?”
And, yes, that’s exactly right.
Nothing is impossible for God.
In reading this story paraphrased from 1 Kings 18, I realize that God has the ability to lead us each to something absolutely incredible. If nothing is impossible for God, why do we settle for less than incredible? In fact, God loves to do the impossible! Yet, so many of us (myself included) are comfortable just sitting around with wet firewood, not even daring to ask God for what seems like the impossible.
If I’m honest about my own faith journey, I’ve got my own wet wood that I’m hanging on to. As I find myself in between ministry callings, I know I’m holding back on praying for big things. I’m stalling. To dare believe that there is an absolutely amazing calling for me out there – something God alone has prepared for me – is a bit overwhelming. I have no doubt that God has brought me to this point in my journey – He has been faithful to call and prepare me for exactly what I need to be doing all along. In my heart, I believe that there is something incredible right around the corner…as a couple, my husband and I both have seen God’s hand in all that’s happened in the last month & we just know God’s got us in His hands.
Yet I’m a little afraid to ask God to lead me to the next thing. It’s safe to be where I am now, staying with what’s comfortable, easy, familiar.
God can do what seems impossible. Elijah knew that, so he prayed for God to do what seemed impossible anyway and God was faithful. I wonder if I’m alone in holding back from asking God to do what seems impossible? How many of us are holding back from what can be incredible to settle for what seems safe? Are you holding on to wet wood of your own?
I don’t think it will be long until I dare ask God for the next steps in my journey – but I do admit that I’m holding back. What if God has prepared me for something that seems too impossible, too incredible? Join me in praying for the courage and faith of Elijah!
Yours in Christ,