After a huge, unexpectedly incredible week, I woke up yesterday morning with a brief feeling of ‘meh’.
You know ‘meh’? That feeling of pre-coffee blah; low energy, low mood, that if not suitably restrained, can leak painfully into the rest of your day?
As I got out of bed to head straight for my morning cure (caffeine), a strange thought popped into my bed-head, don’t go straight for the coffee, call on the name of the Lord.
There was a second’s hesitation, as I really needed that drink, but I stopped, stood there with my bare feet crunched into the carpet and asked for God’s spirit to give me strength for the day.
And suddenly, standing there in the quiet, it returned; that lovely, pervading feeling of God’s spirit; I’m with you. It will be well.
Meh and blah quickly scarpered and if I’m honest, I was a bit surprised, because it really was that easy.
Why hadn’t I done this before? What makes me think that experiencing God’s power is difficult? That I need to put on a performance? That pyjamas are not suitable attire? No idea where these ideas come from.
I was reading 1 Kings 18 this morning which tells the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel.
At the time, there was this huge cultural debate over who was really God. Was it the God Elijah spoke about or was it Baal?
Elijah, growing incredibly fed up of this constant discussion decides to show the people that God, his God, is the one they should be worshipping.
You’ve probably read the story at some point, but Elijah decided to demonstrate the truth by creating two identical altars and sacrifices. The prophets of Baal would ask their god to send fire on their sacrifice and Elijah would ask his God to call down fire on his. Whichever God answered with fire, was THE God. Job done.
As the sacrifices were laid, the prophets of Baal limbered themselves up for a long and sweaty old day. This was obviously going to take some doing. Suitably prepped, they started calling on Baal, shouting his name over and over and over. They jumped and danced around the altar, working themselves up into a bit of a stinky lather, but as noon approached, nada.
Nothing, no voices, no fire, no spontaneous display of Baal’s supposed power.
As the afternoon wore on, the prophets began to cut themselves (this was a thing they did, apparently) as the sweaty swaying, chanting and shouting droned on. But despite the cutting, wailing and screaming, still, nothing.
Stony, deafening silence.
Elijah starts to tease them (I love this bit).
Keep going fellas. I’m sure he’ll hear you eventually. Maybe he’s off somewhere meditating? Maybe he’s having a snooze and just needs to be woken up?
As the day relentlessly wore on, it was clear, nothing was going to happen.
And then it was Elijah’s turn.
He steps up, builds his altar, drenches it in water (perhaps to prove there was no trickery involved) and then he prays.
Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, HEAR me. You are God of all and I am your servant. Let these people know that YOU alone are God.
And then a fierce roar as a huge crackling fireball falls from heaven, smacks at high speed into the middle of the sacrifice, licking up everything in its path.
No screaming, no wailing, no dancing, no cutting required.
Elijah just understood the power of the name he was calling on. And that meant he didn’t need to do very much at all.
What a thought.
When we know (and I mean really know) the power of that name, we don’t have to try. We don’t have to work ourselves up into a lather, position ourselves in a certain way or (in my case) get out of our pjs.
We can summon heaven’s power by just calling on the name above all names and without any fanfare, he’s there.
And so yesterday, when meh and blah stopped by for the briefest of visits, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t properly dressed or that I hadn’t yet read my Bible. I could still stand there, bleary-eyed, hands held up to heaven and ask for power to help me get my day started the right way.
When we know the true power of the name we’re calling on, there’s no need for metaphorical Baal dancing.
We can just call on the name. And he’s there.