Luke 24:13-32
This is Jesus heartburn(I have to credit Dallas Willard for this term!)...31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Water Wasted.

I notice different things now when I read the Bible. Stuff I never saw before or thought of as important.

Maybe because before this time in Sierra Leone I've always known that when you flip a light switch the lights come on...and if not it's on the news and everyone is talking about an outage. Here there is no pattern and no way to predict if there will be light or not. Everyday is a whole new adventure.

The water works that way too...sometimes you turn on a tap and NOTHING comes out. And it seems that everyday we have a discussion about the lack of water. I've never thought so much about water in my life.

So this week, when I was reading through 1 Kings, I read the familiar story of Elijah on Mnt. Carmel and was struck by something new...IT HADN'T RAINED FOR 3 YEARS! Imagine the water crisis! No wonder the king was crabby...he was also known as one who did more to anger the Lord than any king before him, not a great guy at all. Elijah calls the priests of Baal to call upon their god to consume their offering with fire and Baal doesn't show up; then he sets an offering out for YHWH. He has his servant gather 4 jars of water 3 times and pour it over the alter, in other words--Elijah WASTES water in the middle of a drought! I also feel compassion for that unnamed servant while reading this, to find that much water, in a drought, and haul it up the mountain was not an easy task! I've watched people carry 5 gallon buckets of water up a hill that I can barely climb without breathing like I just ran a marathon!

But back to the water...12 BIG jars full! GONE! This story is about so many things but I caught a glimpse...a picture, like the picture in the New Testament of a woman pouring perfume on the feet of Jesus...of faith that wastes what is most precious on earth to worship and express trust in a God who provides. Elijah had faith; he knew that when the people turned back to God because of this sacrifice and God's appearance on the mount, God would send rain. That which was "wasted" and consumed would be returned. Maybe Elijah wasn't sure of the results or the timing but he was simply sure that God would show up. Somehow, someway. He'd be there.

And after the confrontation is over, and Elijah has destroyed the priests of Baal (that's the edited for children's ministry version in the real version he slaughters them, but that's the stuff of nightmares and horror movies!) he prays for rain...and sends his servant 7 times to check to see if the rain clouds are gathering (again poor servant, he's go to be tired) and on the seventh time there is a cloud! The rain comes! Fast and furious! I imagine it to be like some of the rains we have here; not gentle and cleansing but FEIRCE and DRENCHING. 

I used to think the water was only necessary so that everyone would know this is not a trick...now I wonder if it was something else entirely. Something to ponder anyway. I'm going to take some HUGE leaps here and share some things that I think might be for me in this new reading of the story...

God uses all kinds of things to get out attention...things that are good like miracles and rainbows and things that are hard like droughts and famines. 

God cares about water...it's all over the place in the scriptures; must be important.

Sometimes it feels like I am wasting things that are precious on earth; it is not waste if it is done to bring glory to God. 

Often when we waste things that are precious on earth, the God who provides often gives it back multiplied.