Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Am I Ready?

I was singing softly as I watched the storm clouds that had flown south in the evening, head back north in the morning. It never rained. I suppose I was praying for rain– it is second-nature– when I heard the question "Are you ready?"
Quickly I knew it wasn't literal. The gutters are clear, the car windows rolled up. Yes, all is ready.
I retreated to pray and contemplate the question.

Elijah came up; the story of when he called down the rain in 1 Kings 19. Really it's an odd little postscript to the story of God sending fire on Mount Carmel. The confrontation Elijah was created for happens on this day. After years of drought the people are desperate for answers. There is the showdown between the 850 prophets of Baal and Ashara, and Elijah. God sends fire from heaven. There is a revolution, the false prophets are killed. God sends rain. Elijah runs to Jezreel faster than Ahab can drive his chariot, ahead of the cleansing, life-giving rain. In the following days Elijah is depressed. I've always heard that it was for him, like the athletes in the Olympics who get the gold and then have nothing left to live for.

Turkey Vultures gliding on the leading edge of the storm winds

Maybe. I am wondering, though, if it wasn't that there was so much success and nothing to go on for, but that Elijah expected a completely different outcome. He prayed for years for the turning of the people's hearts, for righteous kingship, and for God to heal the land. Everything came down to that day, and the only change that happened was that the prophets of Baal were mobbed and then God sent rain. Hearts remained hard, Elijah remained a wanted man, and he lived the rest of his days still delivering unwanted messages. He had an idea of what rain would be: Not just how it would happen, but what the results would be, and how it would feel. I imagine that he hoped to lead a beautiful revival and restoration after that day. How often our definitions differ from God's.
Oh please prepare my heart for Your rain.

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