Fashioned by God: Living in Expectation
I’ll never forget that Sunday morning message I heard almost fifteen years ago. Our pastor delivered a sermon on the spiritual concept of expectation. In my opinion, the text he read is one of the most poignant passages that demonstrates a life of expectation illustrated in the bible. It is the Old Testament account of the prophet Elijah when he challenged the prophets of Baal and Asherah to call down fire from heaven. Elijah made sure that King Ahab invited the entire nation of Israel to watch, so it would prove to everyone who the true god is, whether Baal, Asherah or the God of Israel. Not only did God show up and prove Himself to be the one true God, but He did it with flair.
That part of the story most certainly shows incredible expectation since Elijah was outnumbered 950 to 1, let the false prophets go first and even gave them all the time they wanted (the bible says they basically ranted and raved all day long from morning until evening, begging their gods to light the sacrifice), but nothing happened. And as if that wasn’t enough, Elijah dug a huge trench around the altar he rebuilt for the Lord and requested that it be soaked with four large jars of water, three times over. Not only did God flash down from heaven and miraculously burn the sacrifice and waterlogged wood sitting on the top of the altar, but there was no water left in the trench at all. And there’s even more: God answered Elijah’s short but specific prayer immediately! What the other gods couldn’t do in multiplied hours, God did in an instant.
So yes, that portion of 1 Kings 18 definitely exemplifies a life lived with Godly expectation. Elijah was obviously convinced that God would turn up in divine fashion, but that’s not the part of the story I want to focus on today. The part that still amazes me is what happened right before that day, and what happened immediately following the fire-coming-down-from-heaven incident. Let’s read the first two verses of that chapter, and then skip down to the last six verses.
“1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!’ 2 So Elijah went to appear before Ahab. 41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!’ 42 So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and prayed with his face between his knees. 43 Then he said to his servant, ‘Go and look out toward the sea.’ The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, ‘I didn’t see anything.’ Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. 44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, “Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!”’ 45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. 46 Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18 1:1-2,41-46 NLT)
I find it incredible that when God tells Elijah to let the King know that rain is coming, he doesn’t doubt or question God. Despite the fact that the King was looking to destroy him and that the country was in the midst of a three-year drought, he starts out to tell Ahab exactly what God said. And then after he challenges the false prophets to call fire down from heaven, he doesn’t waste any time in getting home because he is convinced that the rain is coming. As a matter of fact, when Elijah’s servant finally sees a tiny cloud way off in the distance, the bible says that Elijah shouts for him to make haste to find Ahab and warn him of the impending storm. Not only did Elijah believe the storm was coming, but we can see that he knew it was inevitable because the last verse says that he tucked the bottom of his robe unto his belt and ran so fast that he was ahead of the King’s chariot, all the way home.
Let me be a little vulnerable here. The reason I remember this sermon that I heard so long ago is because of the facial expressions and body language that my pastor demonstrated when he imitated the act of Elijah hiking up the length of his clothes and outrunning the King’s transport. I can still see him running across the stage with that hysterical, yet determined look on his face, and I will never forget it.
I remember thinking, “Wow! What would it be like to live out that kind of Godly expectation? I want to be like that!” I still possess that same longing, and the intensity of that desire has not waned in the least; as a matter of fact, it has grown significantly more fervent. I want to know God so well that I am convinced of His goodness. I desire to identify with His character so fully, that I wholly anticipate He will perfectly come through for me at the best possible time. Now that’s living!
We are going to be talking this month about what it means to live a life that has been fashioned by God. Today we discussed what it means to live and walk in spiritual expectation. We will continue next week with living without fear, then living by faith and finally, living the adventure. Accompany me as we dive deeper into what it means to move forward every day with the knowledge that you have been fashioned by the Creator of the ever-expanding universe, and He has meticulously planned out every moment of your life. What an overwhelming and amazing thought. Let’s pray together.
Father, I know You are creative and Your amazing wonders are never-ending. Help me to identify with You to the point of complete surrender and constant expectation. Teach me to live daily with the anticipation of Your glory and the expectation of Your sovereign acts of kindness and power. I want to trust You more each day so You can use me as You did with Your servant, Elijah. In the powerful name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
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