1 Kings 18:17-22 By Fr. Jason
From 1999 to 2005, I served as a pastor. Then, I stepped down. I had not committed some terrible sin that forced my resignation. The ministry had not crumbled, nor was there an excessive amount of drama or gossip that compelled me to walk away from my position. In all honesty, my reason feels a little bland. Boring even. I quit ministry because I was doing too much ministry. At that point, I worked full-time at Trinity Christian Academy and served as a pastor of college and singles at a church. For three years I tried to balance these two positions, and for three years, I felt like a failure. I know this might make me sound unrighteous or worldly, but I needed time away from doing religious things.
I found myself getting tired of ministry and even of serving people. Neither ministry was thriving like I believed they could. I was torn between them, not giving 100% to either one. I limped my way through many days of teaching and many nights of preaching. I recognized over those years that I had to make a choice. I could not keep going between these two if I wanted to really give myself to either one and see what God might do when my whole heart and mind and soul filled my work.
Have you been there? Are you there now? Do you know what it is like to be pulled hard in two directions? Do you know the feeling of not fully committing to a person, a project, a relationship, a job or an idea? Does that even describe your commitment to God? Are you limping between God and something else?
The people of Israel lived in between God and Baal. It’s as if they had two homes they traveled between, never fully moving into either one. They never really decorated the walls, never completely unpacked, and never got to know their neighbors in either neighborhood. They never really called either one home.
Elijah makes a bold, simple and yet profound statement to them: “If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). He says right now they are “limping” between the two. They have no power to really live. They have no strength of resolve. They have no great hope to pull them through. Courage, character and purpose come through commitment. They are found in our commitment to others and to a goal. When we can fully throw our hearts and wills into something and stop limping back and forth between commitments, it builds within us a profound courage, character and purpose. Elijah, simply says, “Make a choice already!” Settle into one or the other and make it your home.
I think we all know something about limping between more than one commitment. I think we have all experienced not fully giving ourselves over to a cause or relationship or even to God, and we have lived out the consequences that follow that lack of commitment. If God is God, then let us choose and fully give ourselves over to him.
Reflection: What fences are you straddling with God on one side and something else on the other. How are you continuing to move in between without fully committing to either one? What keeps you from making God the true and singular Lord of your life?