Turning back hearts

Yesterday I met with my previous Young Adult Pastor. After an hour or so of talking about purpose, paths, and direction, he felt prompted to tell me I should read about Elijah, Daniel, and Joseph – in that order. He wasn’t sure why those men or in that order, but felt the Spirit prompting him to share that with me.

I’m all about the Spirit’s guidance.

After we were done talking and I headed to the gym, I read an overview of Elijah’s life so I could have some context and an outline before reading it in the Word. Then today I read up until Elijah flees Jezebel’s threats.

In my post The Prodigal Daughter I talk about spiritual gifts. Faith & prophecy are two of mine, and based off my reading of Elijah today, I would say they are also his as well (I go more in depth on prophecy – here).

While not everyone might have these gifts, we should all be encouraged by Elijah’s boldness in his faith. His gift of prophecy turns hearts back to God and proves God’s trustworthiness. He uses the Lord’s words to him in order to challenge the children of God, and to test their belief of Him.

He speaks God’s word with truth and confidence. I mean, our first interaction with Elijah is him literally telling Ahab, the current King of Israel:

[1 Kings 17:1]

“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

What an entrance.

We then follow along as the Lord tells him where to go, and he ends up raising a widow’s son from the dead [the bible’s first account of this] so that the widow could know of God’s power and trustworthiness.

Then on Mount Carmel Elijah puts Baal and his prophets to the test against the Lord [the one who answers with fire is the one true god], taunts them when their idol does nothing for them [I love this part because it reminds us that he’s human… don’t I also struggle with negativity towards others and try to wound with my words], and then proceeds to make this test nearly impossible by pouring FOUR jugs of water THREE TIMES onto his own altar.

What steadfast faith and hope. The people watched as one god did nothing, and Elijah’s actions made it appear more and more impossible for his own altar to end up engulfed in fire – unless it was God who did the impossible.

His prayer to the Lord was:

[1 Kings 18:36-37]

“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.”

The wood was drenched in water, yet when he called upon the name of the Lord, the Lord sent fire from the heavens and burned it all up, even the water that had seeped over and filled the trenches.

I love this prayer. It takes the responsibility and glory off Elijah and onto the Lord. He created an impossible situation – “The god who answers by fire” on an overly soaked and wet altar – and asked that it would be known he was God’s servant, have done these things out of obedience of His command, and begs that the Lord answers him so that the people would know He is Lord, the one turning their hearts back to Him.

The miracle was not about Elijah’s glory or the act of the miracle itself. The Lord is less concerned with the miracle than He is focused on how our hearts respond to the miracle. It was about turning back the hearts of a rebellious people. It was about returning to the Lord, and encouraging His children.

When I originally became obsessed with the idea of having the gift of prophecy, I became attached to knowing the future. I think deep down it was a selfish desire – I wanted such an intimate relationship with the Lord I knew what would happen before others. A sort of “Look at my relationship with the Lord, He speaks to me in this way.”

As I’ve walked with the Lord longer, I’ve come to realize prophecy isn’t about me – it’s about Him. It’s not about what we do or don’t know/understand, it’s about the all-powerful God who knows it all inside and out. He might speak to me differently than He does to others, but our gifts are not for our glory, our gifts are to bring His glory.

Our gifts, whether prophecy, faith, healing, teaching, knowledge, wisdom, mercy… are meant to encourage and turn hearts back towards God and prove God’s trustworthiness.

I know I am sometimes timid in my gifts, and go through seasons where I do anything except walk boldly in Him. But I am reminded that we are not called to live a life of timidity – we are called to live a life in full abundance with all that God has given and will give. So that others might be encouraged and drawn to the Light of who He is.

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