Tonight I was Master of the Remote Control— a title I don’t especially covet.
I don’t like Television for many reasons that I won’t go into, but tonight for an unknown reason, I decided to turn on the T.V.
I started with The Singing Bee which made my heart happy. I am a World-Class-Lyric-Maker-Upper, so anytime I knew the words to the missing lyrics, I was hooping and hollering right here in my living room. Then I turned to an episode of 20/20. It was all about the Internet and the terrible, horrible people in this world who prey on victims, steal identities, falsely accuse and exploit others, and who truly have evil in their hearts. I thought of my little blog and all the good people who read and comment. Call me naive and stupid, but I still believe there is more good out there than bad. I ended my TV watching experience of the night with the 10 o’clock news and the disheartening forecast of severe drought and 109 degree high temperatures, plus extreme wind. When it was over I was thoroughly depressed, cognizant of why I do not watch TV, and scarfed down 2 waffles just to feel better about the world and my place in it.
I needed an uplifting story. Something that would give me hope, and prove that good wins over evil, and that there is something to look forward to in this world. I thought of googling “uplifting stories” and choosing a touching one, but then a story I’d read before popped into my mind. One of my most favorite stories of all time. I copied it from a website written for children called childrenchapel.org. It’s the story of a great man named Elijah and a contest. It speaks to me on so many levels.
The drought conditions were continuing to get worse. There was hardly any water to be found ANYWHERE. The creeks had dried up LONG ago, and the rivers had become patchy mud puddles. Food was scarce for people and for animals. In fact, many of the animals had already DIED because of the shortage of grass.
King Ahab was beginning to worry about his OWN herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. He called Obadiah, one of his servants, to his side.
“Obadiah,” he said, “something must be done before all the animals die. We must find grass and water. You go in one direction and I’ll go the other. There must be grass somewhere.”
So King Ahab and Obadiah set off in different directions, in search of fresh grass and water.
While Obadiah was looking here and there, trying to find mud puddles and grass, he saw a man walking toward him. “I wonder who that could be,” he thought to himself. As the man came closer, Obadiah recognized him. “Why, that’s Elijah!” he exclaimed out loud and ran to meet him.
“Elijah! Elijah! Is that really YOU?” he asked excitedly.
“Yes, I am Elijah, and I want you to do me a big favor.”
“What is it, sir?” Obadiah asked politely.
“I want you to go tell King Ahab that I am here and want to see him,” Elijah explained.
Obadiah instantly became fearful. This was NOT something he wanted to do. “How can you even think of asking me to do such a thing?” Obadiah asked with astonishment. “Don’t you know that King Ahab HATES you? Don’t you know that the King is blaming YOU because there has not been any rain for all these years? Besides that, the King has been looking for you. Every time he thinks he knows where you are, you leave and no one can find you. If I tell him you are here, then you will leave again; he will want to kill YOU and ME. I’m sorry, Elijah. I just cannot do it!”
Elijah looked at Obadiah and patiently explained, “It will be fine, Obadiah. I promise you that I will be here. I promise you that I WILL see the King. Now please, just go and tell him I wish to speak to him.”
“YOU! YOU! YOU are the one that is causing trouble for Israel!” King Ahab shouted in anger. “YOU are the reason we have had no rain!”
“No, King,” Elijah replied. “YOU are the cause for all this trouble. You have turned away from Jehovah, the one true God. You are worshipping the false god, Baal. You have caused the people of Israel to sin by worshipping idols. YOU have brought all this trouble to Israel.”
Elijah continued his speech. “I want you to gather 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of of Ashtoreth, and have them meet me at Mount Carmel.”
King Ahab did as Elijah said and gathered the prophets. A large crowd of people gathered also to see what was going to happen.
Elijah stood before the crowd. “How long are you going to try to worship Baal and Jehovah? You cannot serve more than one god. If Baal is God, worship him! If Jehovah is God, worship Him! You MUST make a decision. You must choose one or the other.”
Then Elijah said, “We are going to have a contest to see who is the REAL God.” He told them to bring enough wood to build two altars – one for Jehovah, and one for Baal. He told them to bring animals for the sacrifice – one for Jehovah and one for Baal.
The 450 prophets of Baal built their altar. They prepared the animal for the sacrifice. Then they started praying: “O Baal, hear us! O Baal, hear us!” From morning until noon they kept up the shouting.
Elijah was taunting and making fun of them: “What’s wrong? Can’t your god HEAR you? Has he taken a trip? Why isn’t he answering you? Perhaps he is talking to someone else. Maybe you should scream LOUDER.”
Midday had passed, and now it was getting late into the evening, and the prophets of Baal were still shouting and screaming at the top of their voices. Baal still was not listening.
Elijah told the people who were looking on to gather around him. He took 12 stones for his altar, used the wood that was brought, and prepared the animal for the sacrifice. Then he did a very strange thing indeed!
He told the people to bring him four barrels of water. It sounded pretty strange to them, but they DID bring the water. He poured the water on the altar and on the sacrifice.
He told them to bring him four more barrels of water. “What’s wrong with this guy? Doesn’t he know there is a shortage of water?” they were mumbling among themselves. But they obediently brought the water. He poured the water on the altar and on the sacrifice.
That wasn’t enough for Elijah. He told them to bring him FOUR MORE barrels of water. “How much water is he going to waste?” someone whispered. Again they did as they were told and brought the water. He poured that water on the altar and on the sacrifice. The sacrifice was soaked with water. Water was running off the wood, onto the stones, and onto the ground. He dug a ditch around the altar and filled it with water also.
Then he began to pray a simple prayer:
“Lord God, let the people know that You are the true God of Israel and I am your servant. Let them know that I have done these things because You told me to do them. Hear me, O Lord, so these people will know that You are the Lord God, and they will serve You again.”
SUDDENLY, fire came down from heaven! It burned up the sacrifice! It burned up the WOOD! It burned up the STONES! It even licked up all the water that was in the ditch around the altar!
When the people saw it, they dropped to the ground in fear and cried out, “The Lord, He is the God; THE LORD, HE IS THE GOD!”
Then Elijah turned to King Ahab and said, “Get up! Eat and drink! There will be an abundance of rain!”
So King Ahab had something to eat and drink, and Elijah took his servant with him to the top of Mount Carmel to pray to God and wait for the rain. “Look toward the sea and tell me if you see rain,” Elijah said to his servant. The servant peered into the distance but didn’t see any rain.
Elijah kept praying.
“Look again,” Elijah told him. He looked again, but still there was no rain.
Elijah continued praying.
He looked six times, and each time there was no rain. Not even a small cloud was in sight.
Elijah prayed one more time
and asked the servant to look again.
This time the servant saw a little cloud way out in the distance over the sea. “Run quickly!” Elijah commanded. “Go tell King Ahab to get his chariot ready and get off the mountain before the rain starts.”
It was just a little while before the sky became dark with clouds.
The wind began to blow.
There was a drop of rain…
Then there was a great downpour.
THE DROUGHT WAS FINALLY OVER.
Everyone in Israel knew for certain that Jehovah was the REAL God and Baal was just a make believe god.
REMEMBER: Everyone must choose between good and bad. It is impossible to serve God and the devil.
How did this story speak to you?