The Lord is ____, no He Isn't

The Lord likes to show off
no He doesn’t
The Lord answers our prayers
no He doesn’t
The Lord is obvious and speaks loud and clear
no He doesn’t.

I just read one of my favorite events in the Bible. Eliljah takes on the priests of Baal and God shows Himself to be the true living and listening and awake god.

But then Elijah runs off and hides at Mt. Horeb and there is some interesting stuff. On Mt. Carmel Elijah prayed and God answered instantly and fire consumed the offering. Then he told Ahab “Get home, there is the sound of rain” and he began to pray for rain. SEVEN TIMES his servant went looking for clouds before he saw rain. Then Elijah tells Ahab again, “get home, here comes a storm.” it’s like Ahab hadn’t gone anywhere. Surely there would have been a lot to hand around Mr. Carmel for. Four hundred priests of Baal had been chopping themselves up all day before being dragged off and slaughtered in a nearby valley. Thousands of people of Israel were there so they would take a long long time to clear out and head home. So finally Ahab gets his second warning to leave.

But then God does all the opposite things, and it’s a good thing He does. Elijah, the same guy that prayed for no rain then the sacrifice then rain, and got all of his prayers answered, prays to God that he would be able to die. God doesn’t answer his prayer. Then Elijah goes and hides in a cave, and an earthquake, and a fire, and a mighty wind all come crashing through the mountains in a tremendous display of power, much like the fire God sent and the storm He was bringing, but God wasn’t in those mighty displays. He was in the whispering breeze after them. So now He isn’t loud and clear, and He isn’t answering prayers, and He isn’t making mighty and earthshaking displays of His power!

I was talking to a guy last week about God, and I said that I didn’t want to be crude, but we must really stop thinking about God like a logical computer that we feed commands to and He does them. Often times people pray and it isn’t answered and they think that they just didn’t pray right, or that something in their life is wrong, so God doesn’t want to answer them, or something. What unconfessed sin do you have? Think up some so you can confess it and then God will answer your prayers…etc. Elijah didn’t have any unconfessed sin; God just didn’t want to answer his prayer and kill him. Actually, are you ready for this, I think I want to throw out the word prayer all together. Prayer has a connotation of special words and secret insights, but whenever you see Jesus talk to the Father, He just talks. And He talks in the SAME WAY that He talks to the disciples.

So in my crude description, I said that making requests to God is really a lot more like getting your wife to have ‘married time’ with you. There is no formula. She doesn’t have a keypad on the back of her head that you type a code into to turn her on like the carwash at the gas station. Usually it doesn’t have that much to do with you EARNING her love. If it did, then every guy would love to take out the trash, mow the grass, vacuum the carpet, and fold the laundry. Your wife’s love and response to your love aren’t based on your works, but on HER LOVE. It’s unpredictable, it’s difficult, it’s easy, it’s ALIVE. That’s how life is with God. If ‘married time’ happened every time I went through the right list of tasks, taking out the trash, mowing the grass, folding the laundry, etc. then it wouldn’t be out of love. It wouldn’t be a gift to me and it wouldn’t be grace from my wife. It would be an obligatory task that I bought from her with my deeds. In short, it would be death and it would lead to the death of our marriage.

God is similar in so many ways. When we think we can say the right things and type in the right code and do the right works and He’ll have to do what we ask, we make Him the servant and ourselves the Sovereign. When we think He didn’t answer our prayers because we didn’t ask Him right we are telling Him that if we ask right He MUST answer. It’s not so easy, and sometimes it’s downright frustrating, but when He answers, there is real love and real life involved, and it’s greater than anything we could imagine.

“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.””
(Rom 4:4-8 NIV)