I Can Play The Background

I’ve been reflecting on passages from Elijah in 1Kings 18, as much as he was a remarkable man, brought into the ministry from obscurity, he also struggled a lot with loneliness in ministry.

Only Elijah was fighting for God’s cause when he stood up to 500 of Baal’s supporters and proved that God of Israel not Baal was God, by causing fire to set alight the wet altar. His gentle prayer to God caused the fire to roar, compared to the empty ravings of the Baal supporters. The Bible even recounts that the Baal supporters sacrified themselves in a vain attempt to appeal to a silent God. If that wasn’t enough, afterwards, Elijah came and made it rain for the first time in 3.5 years.

But it wasn’t long after that he was running away from Jezebel. She was understandably unhappy because Elijah had killed all 500 of the Baal supporters with his sword. She vowed that he would not be alive within the day. “Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.” 1 Kings 19:3 (English Standard Version) While Jezebel vowed to kill him that day, her vow did not come true. As much as man tries to promise things, they will never come true unless according to the will of God. I think that is what Paul is alluding to in Philippians when he says to the church in Philippi:

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,” Philippians 1:25 (English Standard Version)

Paul exudes a confidence in God, that he is in control and that God would alone had control over the future of his ministry with the Philippian church solely in His hands. Similarly, here, though Jezebel threatened, Elijah didn’t die in the day. In fact, Elijah never died, he was taken up to heaven in a flaming chariot. Jezebel didn’t even get close. Therefore, man has no control over the turn of events, we can vow to do one things, but God may have other plans. (James 4v.13-17)

Nevertheless, Elijah fled. Running as far away from Jezebel as he could, through even outside of the nation of Israel into a Palestine land and then further into the wilderness. He rested there, hoping for the news to die down. “And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”” 1 Kings 19:13-14 (English Standard Version)

Notice his repeated use of “I”s when Elijah is giving a defense as to the reason for running. He gave his reason honestly to God, the reason being that he felt alone in his ministry. He says he has been jealous, he had done many things for God, but he hadn’t seen any fruition. He still was alone and that visual affirmation was what was lacking in his eyes.

We often lose the focus of our ministry in this world when we try to measure the success and effectiveness through what our eyes can see. The reality is that, when we become the center of our own ministry, we lose the plot. God had just performed a great miracle through Elijah, yet he was running away. Yet still, he didn’t believe that God could provide the protection that he already had demonstrated he had full power in the encounter with the Baal prophets. The issue is that when ministry becomes solely based on visual things and driven by visual things, this is a direct disobedience. What makes ministry successful is how greatly we are obeying God, not how many people follow us. I read in Hudson Taylor’s biography, that he had to toil 6 years before his first convert. There is a patience that is required of us, to persevere and endure, to see the Lord’s work come to fruition.

A lot of this has to do with the inherent tendency to think that we have any control over our situations. Elijah thought that he deserved more fruition to his works, even after killing 500 Baal supporters, he had no one believing him, but now he had the queen of Israel putting a death threat on him. He was weary and the loss of context and vision is apparent in his call for help. This loss of confidence causes us to become nothing like God intended us to be. God has made us to be dependent, not independent of His grace, only through His grace in our lives can we begin to see the world through His eyes. When ministry in itself becomes anything but to bring God more glory to this earth, it loses its bite and ambition. It is humanistic to think that we would be able to bring someone to God, but we should continually search for how we can improve ourselves. Too often we search how we can change our methods, how we can more effectively show the message, but the problem is me. I am not praying enough for God’s wisdom, I’m not praying enough for God to open their hearts, I’m not praying enough to become less and God to become more.

One of my favourite tracks from the new Lecrae album, is “Background”. The whole song is related to what I’ve been talking about, mainly how we should fade into the background, and become purely instruments used by a sovereign and powerful God.

background by lecrae feat c-lite

I could play the background
I could play the background
‘Cause I know sometimes I get in the way
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
So won’t You take the lead, lead, lead?
And I could play the background, background
And you could take the lead

Praying the whole world would start embracing stage fright
So let me fall back, stop giving my suggestions
‘Cause when I follow my obsessions, I end up confessin’
That I’m not that impressive, matter of fact
I’m who I are, a trail of stardust leading to the superstar

full lyrics

How much patience do we have? How much do we wait on the Lord? How often do we search for visual affirmation to what God has predestined for us?

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About JN
what happened to dignity / never see it on MTV.

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