I love to dream. But I love it even more when the dream begins to leave port and sets sail toward reality. That’s when you get this feeling in your gut that says, “This is really going to happen.” But I’ve noticed any time I’m pursuing a God given vision things don’t go the way I anticipated, they never happen as smoothly as I planned nor do they happen in the timing I imagined. I’ve also learned God frequently “detours” the vision in order to develop the visionary.
I can’t help but wonder what went through Elijah’s mind in 1 Kings 17. It’s clear that God gave him a vision for a spiritual revolution. In 17:1 he takes his first step toward the vision when he boldly confronts King Ahab saying, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” But the very next verse just isn’t what you would expect, “Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.”
God tells Elijah to leave! What? It doesn’t seem to make sense. And to make matters worse he tells him to go to Kerith Ravine, which in Hebrew means “cut off place”. But God took him on this “detour” for a reason. Each and every day Elijah would experience the faithfulness of God as ravens flew in his daily meals. I’m sure this is not where Elijah expected to be after taking his first steps toward his vision, but it was where God wanted him to be. You see God took this visionary on a “detour” to teach him total dependence. Elijah experienced this daily miracle for over 600 consecutive days. While it may not have been a part of Elijah’s master plan, it was a necessary step to help him to the man God needed to do the job. Don’t forget: You have to have a God sized faith to accomplish a God sized vision.
Do you feel like your vision has been detoured? Perhaps right now God’s focus is on developing the visionary.
Sometimes my ambitions outpace God’s assignments. I have dedicated my life to honoring and serving God, but as vision grows in my heart so grows the temptation to build what God is not asking me to build. A spiritual leader must guard his ambitions and daily keep his ear tuned to God’s directives.
There’s a little known character in the Bible named Hiel who made this mistake and he paid dearly for it. His story is recorded in one verse, 1 Kings 16:34, “In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.”
Years earlier in Joshua 6:26 God had warned the people of Israel not to rebuild the city of Jericho. But evidently Hiel driven by his ambition ignored God’s instruction. He had a vision and completed the job, but notice his family paid the price. He lost his oldest son as he built the foundation. But that didn’t stop him; he continued building and eventually lost his youngest son as he set up the gates.
Don’t let your ambitions outpace God’s assignments. When we build what God doesn’t want us to build it’s usually our family that pays the price. It breaks my heart when I see a man (or woman) who truly loves God get caught up in selfish ambition, going way beyond what God is asking and watch the family pay the price.
Are you keeping your family a priority as you fulfill God’s assignment for your life? What can you do for or with them this week to show them they are a priority in your schedule?
God slapped me around with this question last night: “Are your actions a reflection of your prayer life?” Ouch! This hurt because it made me realize praying safe leads to playing it safe.
As I read 1 Kings 17:1 I was struck by the boldness of Elijah’s action, “Now Elijah said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Is Elijah nuts? He walks up to the most wicked King Israel had ever seen and announces a drought. But that’s not all. He boldly proclaims this drought will not end until he says it will end. Wow, that is some pretty gutsy behavior.
But notice his bold actions were preceeded by some bold prayer. Apparently Elijah had taken all of Ahab’s wicknedness that he could take. Knowing God had told Israel if they fell into idolatry He would withhold rain, Elijah prayed for God to hold true to His Word and display His power (Dt. 11:16-17). James tells us, “Elijah … prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:16-18)
Elijah was able to act boldly because he prayed boldly. His actions were simply a reflection of his prayers. Here are a couple of dangerous prayers I am praying for our church…
- That God will catalyze an unstoppable movement among our leaders to recognize, recruit and raise up new and next generation leaders resulting in a rich leadership culture at Seacoast.
- That God will mobilize 10,000 people into mission each one connecting deeply with a cause that moves their hearts, allowing us to increase Seacoast Global impact for the Kingdom.
What are your dangerous prayers? Write them down, keep them in front of you and watch God suprise you.