Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Optimism at a New Year

“A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea”
                                                                     (1 Kings 18:44)

In all history was there ever a more colourful prophet than Elijah?  In the power of God, he halted the deadly drift to Baal-worship in a single day.  Earlier he had pronounced upon the land a divine judgment of three and a half years of drought.  Now that dry period was about to end.

1. Confidence in God’s power.  Praying people need to know that they are called and sent, no matter the set-backs.  Elijah tells King Ahab, “Rain is coming!”  But the skies looked like brass.  That’s real confidence!

2. Watchfulness for God’s signals.  The prophet now prays – for the promised rain.  He sends for his weather-watching aide: “How is it looking, now?” The report comes back - “It’s a beautiful sunny day out there!”  Elijah prays on.  Christian colleagues – can we do the same, when the work – or the year ahead - looks grim and unpromising?  To pray is to stay alert to what GOD may do!

3. Involvement in God’s actions.  A seventh time the aide is back.  The weather? “Er, blazing sun actually…. well, except for one tiny cloud!”  But that’s enough for Elijah.  “Into your chariot!” he orders Ahab, “and ride before the rain stops you!”

The skies go black, the wind rises…. and the drought is over.  See Elijah, caught up in the excitement as he runs ahead of Ahab – on a seventeen mile stretch to Jezreel - in the drenching, refreshing rain of God.  Did he have to do that?  No, but he wanted to be involved up to the last!  Read James 5:17,18; Elijah was no super-hero.  He was like any one of us.