Summary: One lesson I learned on our short term missions trip is: when you pray, you can learn more by listening.
How Short Term Missions Can Change Your Life!
When you pray who listens the most and what do they hear?
It was a day like any other day, as far as he could remember. The drought was in its third year, and the people were suffering greatly. The king was so desperate and the food was so sparse that he had begun to search the land for food for his animals. Yet, this day was not like any other day, the Lord had spoken to him and had told him to go to the king with a message that rain was on the way. As he headed for his meeting with the king, he came across Obadiah, a godly servant of the king. Their meeting, of course, was no chance meeting. God was orchestrating another opportunity to prove His sovereignty to the people who had turned their back on him. When the prophet came before the king, he was met by accusations of treason, but not to be deterred by man’s perspective on events, he laid down a challenge. "Gather the people," he said. "Bring out the other prophets. Let’s see who’s God is God."
When the king, the prophets and the people gathered on the mount, the time for the challenge had come. The queen’s prophets were the first ones to make an attempt at a sacrifice. At first, they screamed and shouted for their god to come and accept their sacrifice. As the morning wore on, they became frenzied in their worship dancing wildly, but still their god had not responded. Soon, he began to mock them. "Shout louder," he said. "Perhaps your god is deep in thought or maybe he is relieving himself. Better yet, maybe he went on a trip or he is asleep and he needs to be awakened." This only stirred the queen’s prophets into a greater frenzy. Soon, they cutting themselves with knives and swords until their sweat was washed away in their blood. Still, as the hours drifted by, there was no answer, until finally, they gave up, exhausted and defeated.
Stepping forward, he called for the people to build a trench around the altar for his sacrifice. "Douse it in water," he commanded. Two more times he told them to soak the sacrifice in water. And then he prayed. Immediately, fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and even the water in the ditch around the sacrifice. The people fell on their faces and worshipped God as the Lord. Later that day, he would pray again, and it would rain, the drought would be over. Was it day like any other day or was it truly a glorious day? It was both and yet neither, (only the postmodern can understand that) for the queen threatened his life when she found out that he had killed her prophets.
Fearing for his life, he fled into the desert. So goes a day in the life of the prophet Elijah. How can short term missions change your life? What can you learn from a trip that only takes a few days or at best a few weeks? Over the next few weeks, I want to share some of the things that I learned from our short
term trip on the Navajo Reservation.
One lesson: When you pray, you can learn more by listening. (1 Kings 19) After a day of great triumph, Elijah experienced a great tragedy. (v. 1-4) Neither the king nor the queen had repented of their evil. Sure, God had been victorious at the battle of Mt. Carmel. Sure, the people had seen God’s miraculous power. Didn’t they say, "The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!" Sure, God had brought rain to the land and the drought was over. Sure, one would think that everyone would realize the foolishness of serving false gods. But that is not the way things turned out. Instead, the king was still unconvinced and the queen was rather incensed. "May I be killed if I do not kill Elijah by the end of tomorrow," she was heard to say. His fight or flight response kicked in and he ran like he had never run before. Leaving his servant in Beersheba (was the servant slowing him down?), he went alone into the desert. There he sat down under a tree and begged for the very thing he was running away from. Now would God answer his prayer?
(v. 5-9) Depression overcoming him, he fell asleep until an angel awakened him. (How do you deal with depression or discouragement? Can we criticize Elijah for what just happened? How does God deal with depression and discouragement? How can we be honest and devoted followers of Christ in light of such depressing or discouraging circumstances?) "Get up and eat," he was told. After his meal, he fell asleep again. Then, the angel of the Lord told him to get up and eat and drink, for there was a long journey ahead of him. After this power lunch, he traveled forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, where he found a cave and spent the night.