Through a weird series of events, God brought this thought to me.  Among my morning God time, I was enveloped in this thought and I stumbled across the idea for the blog post you're about to read.  It's not an easy topic; in fact, it's considered taboo in many church communities.  Those that accept it are often seen as too liberal and those who try to pretend the dilemma doesn't exist are often perceived as heartless and unaware.  So, in an effort to maintain comfort, we often push it aside and don't want to discuss or think about it.  But for whatever reason, God's not allowing it this time.  My sincerest prayer is that as you're reading this, whoever you are, you can feel God's love (and mine) permeating through this message.  I deeply hope that these words are conveyed with grace and dignity.  
In I Kings 18, Elijah was facing a nation that had not given God their all.  They were indecisive and had fallen from God, having turned their hearts away from Him to seek other things.  In an effort to prove the Lord and the failing of Baal, the god and idol of which the people of Israel had turned to, Elijah proposed a contest of sorts.  All 450 prophets of Baal present at the time would receive a bullock (that'd be a young bull).  Elijah, prophet of the Lord, would receive a bullock as well.  Both would cut the bullock into pieces, lay it on wood as an altar of sorts, and would pray that their sacrifice or offering would be consumed in fire.  "The God that answereth by fire, let Him be God," Elijah stated in verse 24.

The prophets of Baal agreed.  They set up their altar and prayed.  And prayed.  And begged.  But there was no answer.  No fire fell as a result of their prayers.  In distress, they jumped upon the altar they had made and began cutting themselves.  Their prayers hadn't been answered.  They had turned to a silent god.  They had put their trust in someone or something that couldn't help them.  And as a result of being so severely disappointed, they began harming themselves.

Christians: we need to realize that self-harming is an issue today, even in our churches.  A study in 2004 showed that anywhere between 2-8 million individuals in the United States alone exhibited self-injuring behaviors.  Young men and women are coming to church, then going home and secluding themselves so they can cut or scratch or burn for a moment of releasing incredible emotional distress.  It's not a disease and it's not contagious.  Ignoring it won't make it go away.  It is the silent sign of a person who needs your prayers and love.

And if you are reading this and you are someone who is harming yourself, let me address you for a moment: there is hope.  The story isn't over.

Return with me back to I King 18.  It was now Elijah's turn to seek his God.  He gathered all the people near as he prepared to call upon the Father.  But perhaps most importantly, I Kings 18:30 states that Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.  Here's the thing: if you desire to stop hurting yourself in any way, you must repair the altar of the Lord in your life.  That means spending time with Him and losing yourself in His Word.  That means seeking Him continually and allowing Him to reign in your life.

It gets better.  In verse 37, after all arrangements have been made, Elijah prays and says, "Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again."  One simple prayer.  A prayer of faith from a true believer to the Living God.  And the fire fell.  When the people witnessed this, they fell on their faces and testified to the existence and power of God.

God does not give up on His children.  If you've turned to something or someone instead of God, looking for satisfaction or peace, and you've been severely disappointed by the results, join the club.  An entire nation once faced the same despair and devastation you're feeling.  But God restored them.  He made Himself known unto them once they allowed Him the opportunity to repair them.

Christians, be Elijah.  Pray for those of this generation who are trapped in this cycle of self-injury.  Pray that God would send His fire to reveal His love, power, and desire to restore.

Those who are trapped in despair, choose whom you will serve.  If it is the Lord God, repair His altar in your life and allow Him to restore you.  Serve Him in sincerity and in truth.  And He will honor your obedience and faith.  God bless. 

1 comment:

  1. Courtney,
    You never fail to amaze me with your insight and strength. God has blessed you immensely, and therefore has blessed me. He is a powerful God who doesn't give up on us! Thanks for the reminder :)