“Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.” 1 Kings 18:21
As I read this verse this morning I found myself deeply saddened by the final line in this verse, “But the people did not answer him a word.” How often do we encounter people or respond in kind ourselves when a choice between God and something else needs to be made? It is like we hold out hope that some other option will come our way or someone else will make the choice for us so we don't have to take the blame if the choice we made was the wrong one.
These people standing near Elijah actually didn't come to their senses until the end of a very long day of gathering piles of evidence as to which choice was the wiser of the two to make (that being the choice for God over the choice of Baal). In the end they did choose God, but it was only after an episode that would have brought any person in the place to their knees – it was the stand off between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. (If you are not familiar with the story you can find it in 1 Kings 18: 20 – 40.) Here is what the people did and said after they witnessed this spectacular evidence of the existence of God, “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, 'The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!'” (1 Kings 18:39)
As I was thinking about this whole scenario, the following verse came to mind: “...because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) For you precautionary types who want all the evidence before you so you can make a wise and calculated decision, this is a tough teaching. I tend to live on the other end of that pole and make the mistake of looking before I leap, ready to believe God will be there to catch me if I, by chance, have missed what His particular call was before my flight.
Neither position, hesitation or impulsivity, is wise to live by. There is a middle ground though that must be found between the two places – one to which the Holy Spirit of God brings through His revelation of God's will to each individual willing to listen and follow. For you hesitating types, the problem lies in the fact that God usually does not lay out detailed plans for you with all the convincing evidence needed to follow Him from start to stop. On the other hand, for us impulsive types, we do need to train ourselves to stop and listen before we leap otherwise we may leap into the wrong pool!
The reality is, if we make sure to listen and confirm the Lord's direction, then we are ready to step into the unknown. Faith that God will not fail you in your obedience is what faith is all about. Are you ready today to follow God and step out without knowing where you are going? As long as God is with you (yes that is the check for you impulsive types like me), you are making the right choice and God will continue to confirm your steps as you keep trusting Him and checking in with Him on the way He has set before you.