I love a good campfire…there’s nothing better than cooking some spuds and marshmallows on an open fire in the ‘great outdoors’! I’d love to say that I’ve always been ‘fired up’ for God, but the reality is that the fire gets dampened from time to time.
This is a follow on from my previous post, Living Sacrifices Part 1 , where I mentioned that as those facilitating worship in church, the raised platform we stand on is not so much a stage, as an altar, with living sacrifices on it. At times, those living sacrifices aren’t so easy to ‘fire up’!
The account given in 1 Kings 18 tells of Elijah vs the Prophets of Baal in a massive face-off between the God of Israel and the local deity. Elijah was one-out against these 450 prophets but had so much confidence in God that he set them a challenge. Both parties were to build an altar and pray that their god would set the altar alight. The 450 prophets went first and after working at it all day, as Eugene Petersen puts it in The Message, “they used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened”. Elijah was trash talking them, suggesting that their god was away on vacation or maybe on the toilet!
So then it was Elijah’s turn. He instructed that 12 large buckets of water be thrown on the altar, which left it completely drenched and the trench around it filled. At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed and then “the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench”. (1 Kings 18:38)
Our sacrifice can be drenched by the stuff that happens in life – busy-ness at work, issues with family or friends, worries about money – all kinds of things. What’s more, people come into our church services with all kinds of drenched sacrifices as well. It is natural for us to feel like it’s pretty hard to be ‘on fire’ for God when we feel drowned by everything else going on around us.
If we just rely on our own strategies and ‘religious tricks’ then nothing is going to happen on the ‘altar’, and we will remain a wet, soggy mess.
But as we worship (and you know I’m not just talking about singing songs in church on a Sunday when I say that), as we tune our heart to His, our God who is described as a “consuming fire” can supernaturally overcome all those things that in any natural sense would prevent us from being “fired up” for God. He can give us a “peace that passes understanding” – an unreasonable peace despite our circumstances and in the face of our troubles.
As facilitators of people’s worship, we should recognise that there’s a lot of living, but “drenched sacrifices” at church and as they come, they need to be connected with the fire of God, not our clever strategies.
How do you stay “fired up”?