1 Kings 18:20-29 (The Message translation)
20 So Ahab summoned everyone in Israel, particularly the prophets, to Mount Carmel.
21 Elijah challenged the people: “How long are you going to sit on the fence? If God is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!” Nobody said a word; nobody made a move.
22-24 Then Elijah said, “I’m the only prophet of God left in Israel; and there are 450 prophets of Baal. Let the Baal prophets bring up two oxen; let them pick one, butcher it, and lay it out on an altar on firewood—but don’t ignite it. I’ll take the other ox, cut it up, and lay it on the wood. But neither will I light the fire. Then you pray to your gods and I’ll pray to God. The god who answers with fire will prove to be, in fact, God.” All the people agreed: “A good plan—do it!”
25 Elijah told the Baal prophets, “Choose your ox and prepare it. You go first, you’re the majority. Then pray to your god, but don’t light the fire.”
26 So they took the ox he had given them, prepared it for the altar, then prayed to Baal. They prayed all morning long, “O Baal, answer us!” But nothing happened—not so much as a whisper of breeze. Desperate, they jumped and stomped on the altar they had made.
27-28 By noon, Elijah had started making fun of them, taunting, “Call a little louder—he is a god, after all. Maybe he’s off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he’s gotten involved in a project, or maybe he’s on vacation. You don’t suppose he’s overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?” They prayed louder and louder, cutting themselves with swords and knives—a ritual common to them—until they were covered with blood.
29 This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response.
Devotion by Rev. Krista
Jumping the Fence
Growing up as a child in Virginia, I remember having some of the best times playing outdoors with my friends. We would go from house to house, and on occasion from neighborhood to neighborhood - unknown to my mother of course. As ‘resourceful kids’ we figured out to make our rounds faster was to jump the fence into yards, run across the yards and jump the other fence. So that is what we did. Over, run and over again. This would go on until… Yep, you got it! Until we came across a fence that was too difficult to jump. It was either too high, or it was picket and not chain linked, or whatever the obstacle we had to figure out if we were going to go forward or turn back.
I look back at this memory now through the lens of verse 21 of this passage, I had to make up my mind. As a child I had to decide between moving towards the end goal and keeping up with my friends. Or I had to decide to turn back and possibly be left behind or left out altogether. Either way, I had to decide. I was standing at the fence, looking up with great contemplation and I needed to decide.
Not much has changed since I was a child, and probably not with you either. Decisions have to be made. There have been times when we were able to go along life’s way with little to no disruptions, and then, what seems like all of a sudden, we are faced with a major challenge. Reality stands before us and we must make a decision.
As you face your fences today, look up and decide to follow Christ. Follow the voice of the One who knows what is on the other side of the fence. Follow the Spirit of the One who has all power and who has enough love to lift you over that fence. Make your decisions and allow God to do the rest.
Prayer: Dear God, we must be reminded that we all have decisions to make. We must decide in the mundane like what to wear or what to eat. But your scripture in Matthew 6, reminds us not to worry about that because just as you take care of the birds of the air, you will take care of us too. We need to increase our courage and make decisions knowing you will be there with us. We can no longer sit on the fence, wavering. We must commit to you and we know your loving arms will be there waiting for us. Amen