to spot a goat in a flock of sheep and its just as easy to tell a real cowboy from an imposter? (or so the kids at Rodeo Bible Camp tell me)
I was walking by the horsemanship group at a camp this summer when a kid yelled at me to come over and see him. Upon my arrival at his side, he informed me that I was not a real cowboy. It was kind of abrupt really. I was walking along this whole time thinking I was a cowboy, and some 12-year-old kid opened my eyes. It was kind of like The Emperors New Clothes where the kid points out to everyone that the Emperor is buck-naked. He had seen through my façade and I stood there feeling exposed. On these three counts was I laking:
- I did not have a horse.
- I was not wearing boots.
- I did not carry a knife.
I usually wear boots, but the other two were spot on. I don’t carry a knife because: a. I don’t posses a good one; b. the school where I work frowns on knife wielding. He saw through my ruse and pointed out that like the proverbial cheese, I stood alone as the only non-cowboy at camp. After a few hours of crying, I pieced my fragile ego and my fake cowboy costume back together and rejoined camp.
Are you like the kid in the story? Can you spot and imposter? What would it take for you to spot the real deal?
Elijah was hidden by God in a ravine that had a brook running through it. After some time the brook dried up. This makes complete sense because Elijah told Ahab that there wouldn’t be any rain unless he said so. Elijah hadn’t said so…so the brook dried up. Then God told him:
“Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” (1 Kings 17.9)
God had commanded [tsawah] the ravens to feed Elijah in the ravine (17.4) and now He commanded [tsawah] the widow to feed him there. Its funny that part of Ahab’s downfall was a Sidonian (16.31) and part of Elijah’s ministry is a Sidonian family. Elijah takes off to the North and East to Zarephath, where he runs into the woman at the gate of the city. When he asks her for food and water she gives him a pretty depressing answer:
“As surely as the Lord your God lives, I don’t have any bread-only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die!” (1 Kings 17.12)
What a glass-half-empty answer, but Elijah, quoting God, convinces her that the flour and oil will not run out until rain comes. (14)
So “She went away and did…” (15) with nothing more than Elijah’s word from God, she acted.
“So there was…” (15b) The word of the Lord was shown to be true. With God a promise made is the same as promise kept. It was proven true day-by-day.
Later, another crisis arose. This time, instead of starvation, death comes to the widows house. Her son becomes sick and dies. The NIV translates it stopped breathing but there is so much more to it. The situation is so much bleaker. The hebrew says that life didn’t remain in him. The word for life, nesama, is the same word used in Genesis 2.7, when God breaths life into man. It is mostly used of God’s life giving capability. The nesama did not stay with him [lo-notrah]. It is the idea of not having anything left, no surviving, no escaping. The sustenance of God has left the boy.
In that moment of crisis, Elijah prays and acts. The Lord hears Elijah’s cry and the boy’s life [nephesh], his spirit, returned to him. Mom, went from hacked off at Elijah (18) to ecstatic with him and she makes this confession:
“Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is truth.” (17.24)
In the Old Testament the term ‘man of God’ was often used of prophets. There were prophets in many religions, but this woman saw the truth in Elijah’s words from God and the power that came with them. This woman saw the real deal before her…God’s word taking over Elijah’s life.
She saw first hand the truth of God’s word before her. How are we at seeing and spotting God’s truth in his word. I am ashamed to admit it, sometimes my fortune cookie at Panda Express has more weight in my life than does the Word of God. There are times when words from Don’t Squat with You’re Spurs on holds more sway than Proverbs. I sometimes get taken surprise by how unable I am to see and act on the truth and power that is located in the word of God. Maybe you’re like me and forget the power located in the word of God. Or maybe it’s been awhile since you put the word into practice or experienced the truth of it. I read the Word of God and don’t believe it can change me if I put it into practice. I pay lip service to it. I forget it sometimes. I want to be the real deal but like I said, sometimes walk around like a cowboy, but the truth is I’m not.