Thursday, May 19, 2011

Throw another Bucket on the Bonfire

Last fall, I read through the entire Bible in 90 days. Cover to cover, every word.

This experience liberated me. As a lifelong Bible student, I had never read the whole thing in one go. I enjoyed the overarching narrative; the proportion of Old Testament history to New Testament instructions for living; the multitude of times certain topics and ideas come up. But most of all, it broke my hangup with reading the Bible as a book.

When I finished in January, I started over the next day. Just a few chapters a day this time, but enough to keep me drinking from the well a little bit at a time. Sometimes I miss for a couple weeks here and there, but thanks to having YouVersion installed on my phone, I can just pick right up where I left off.

Now I can always answer the question, "What have you been reading lately?" with a Scripture passage. God speaks to me in amazing ways as I work my way through the history of Israel. Mostly because it seems the bulk of Scripture covers little else.

Today I picked up in 1Kings (I get bogged down in the Samuel/Kings/Chronicles area EVERY. BLESSED. TIME.) and came upon chapter 18, In Which God Shows Off.

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
It seems the Lord Almighty got fed up with wicked King Ahab being an idiot. The rest of Israel was suffering due to a 3 year drought brought on as punishment for King Ahab following the god Baal, and the time had come to end it. So God sent Elijah to challenge Ahab's 450 prophets to a Sacrifice Showdown: Whichever god could light his own sacrifice on fire, he was the true powerful god that the people should follow.

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. (v 21)

This passage contains some of the best comedy in Scripture. Elijah gave the Baal prophets every advantage. They got to go first, and they had all day.

All morning they danced around the altar, but got no answer. At noon, Elijah taunted them that Baal must be sleeping or on a trip, or hard of hearing. So they danced harder all afternoon, even cutting themselves and letting the blood flow in order to get their god to hear them.

Finally, Elijah left them to their ceremonies and called the people to come watch his sacrifice on the altar of the Lord.

First he rebuilt it. He used 12 stones to symbolize the whole of God's people (the nation had been broken by civil discord for 2 generations by this point). He dug a trench around the stones. He put wood on the stones of the altar, and laid the pieces of the offering on top of the wood. Then he had someone pour four giant jars of water over the entire thing.

"Do it again," he said, and they did it again. "Do it a third time," he ordered, and they did it the third time. (v 34)

Elijah totally stacked the deck against himself and against his God. I sometimes wonder what the people thought at this point. Did they hang around simply to see Elijah play the fool once and for all?

Finally, the moment of truth arrived. Elijah stepped forward and addressed God simply, yet with confidence.

"Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." (v 36-37)

And immediately, fire came from heaven and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil and even the water in the trench. The whole shebang.

What's left to doubt, about who is the true and powerful God?

When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The Lord - he is God! The Lord - he is God!" (v 39)

Do I Trust Him?
A few years ago I faced a difficult situation. As I shared it with my friend Diane, she responded, "Throw another bucket on!"


She explained what she sees and hears every time she reads this passage of Elijah and the Baal prophets. The comedy of Elijah taunting the prophets; the ludicrous way he has buckets and buckets and buckets of water poured on the sacrifice, so it runs off and makes a soggy moat around the altar; and the immediate, undeniable way God sends fire to consume the WHOLE thing: it's cinematic gold.

Then she sang me a line, to the tune of, "I love rock and roll. Put another dime in the jukebox, baby."

I have an awesome God. Throw another bucket on the bonfire, baby!

And I can't get it out of my head. This phrase has come to mean to me: Hey, so this looks impossible. So what? Nothing is impossible with God. So let's keep letting the ridiculous situation add up, knowing God's power can only shine more brightly as the situation grows more dim.

I needed to remember this story today. I've got my own uphill battle to fight, and I think God is asking me, "Do you trust me?" I think it's time I get my assumed limitations out of the way, and watch to see how He will work. So that He gets the glory, and so that someone else can see Him working to turn their hearts to Him.


  1. Oh my--now I've got that little ditty in my head. Awesome! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Krista, I remember that Bible reading – those were the first posts of yours that I got to read. I still remember the reflection questions to ask when reading Scripture – hearted them!

    And Amen! The passage does have some of the best comedy in Scripture. He was a sarcastic little bugger wasn't he? And a little fun fact – in the Hebrew, when he asks the profits where there God is – it's the word for being "indisposed". He was asking them if maybe there God was in the bathroom :-)

    I always heart your posts. I always walk away last. Thank you and God bless and keep all of yours this day.


Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing from you.