Someone referred to me as “Elijah” in a recent email and it felt like I’d been hit in the head with a Major League baseball bat! It stung me worse than Muhammad Ali ever did an opponent in the ring. Why? Because it was true…and the truth hurts sometimes.
I’ll spare you the gory details. Let’s just say that while preaching a few weeks ago I felt like I had been greatly disrespected. From my perspective (and isn’t that the only one that really counts?!) I was being totally ignored. And it aggravated me BIG TIME!
Well, it just so happened that I was preaching and teaching from 1 Kings 19 where Elijah is running scared because wicked Queen Jezebel ruined his day by issuing a death threat with a timer set for fulfillment within 24 hours. In response Elijah tucks his tail, runs away in fear, throws a huge pity party, sits under a juniper tree, and begs God to take his life (how ironic since he was running from a threat of death).
Now keep in mind, this running in desperation takes place just hours after God’s phenomenal demonstration of power on Mt. Carmel when He used Elijah to defeat 450 prophets of Baal and proved Himself to be the one and only God by raining down fire to consume the saturated sacrifices.
And what colors were on my sermon palette to paint such a scene and such a character? Wimpy white. Pathetic purple. Ghastly grey. Elijah was disgusting and he deserved to be described as such… Wait a minute! Elijah did receive a death warrant. And no doubt, given an opportunity Jezebel would have killed him. She had already killed other prophets (1 Kings 18.13).
So, here I am teaching and applying these truths while at the exact same time I’m filled with self-pity and self-righteous rage because someone had “offended me.” BUT, I hadn’t made the application to myself until the email… I let one person know how and why I was so aggravated and disgusted. And that person simply wrote,
You can’t let 1 or 2 folks get under your skin! Try heaping “coals of fire” on their heads.
And here is how I responded to that email:
Wow, talk about needing to wear a spiritual dunce cap! I honestly had not even made the (embarrassing) connection w/ Elijah letting one woman get the best of him and there I was letting a “non-lethal distraction” get to me. Thanks for the gentle, backhanded whop up side my head…and excuse me while I go get my bucket…I’ve got some coals to put in it before Hurricane Irene gets them all wet.
I’ve shared this humiliating episode of my life because it illustrates two Proverbs: (1) Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Proverbs 27.6), and (2) Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27.17).
Thank you, Lord, for my faithful friend!