“I want God to consume my life.”
Is this a familiar phrase to you? It’s a comment that many of us make. We want God to send the fire down, set us ablaze with passion and anointing, and use us to make history or at least to change the world around us. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people. I want God to use me to do great things – things that I would never imagine for myself – all for His glory. But no matter how many times I say it, I have also realized that this is not something I can do on my own. How do I reach that point, become that available, totally emptying myself out for Him to fill?
One of the people I look to in the bible as one who knew how to trust God, how to communicate with God, and how to move God, is Elijah. What a mighty man of God he was! He had such a relationship with God that He knew God would answer when he prayed. He heard from God. And when he heard from God, he obeyed what God told him to do.
My favorite story about Elijah is when he confronted the prophets of Baal and challenged them to a sacrifice duel. They agreed that whomever’s god answered by fire would be the true God. He allowed the 450 prophets of Baal to offer their sacrifice first, and after they sacrificed and prayed to Baal well into the evening with no result, it was Elijah’s turn. He obediently followed each instruction the Lord gave him. He rebuilt the altar using 12 large stones, dug a trench around it, laid wood on it and then put the sacrifice on it. After that, he saturated it with water. Finally, he prayed. Not for hours, but a simple, faith-filled prayer. And God answered. He consumed the sacrifice totally. The bull, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and water. Everything. God consumed it.
“Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me,Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
This testimony of God’s move for Elijah provides some great insight into how we can see the fire of God fall in our own lives.
First, build a strong altar.
The altar to God had been disregarded and torn down. Elijah rebuilt it using 12 stones. He built it solid. Strong. It was a good altar, worthy of the sacrifice before God. In our life we must spend time in prayer creating a strong foundation of faith. If we disregard our prayer life we will not have the close communication with God that we need. Just like it took effort for Elijah to set those 12 stones, it will take effort to set a strong foundation of prayer in our life but it is well worth it.
Dig a trench.
Everything that God has us do may not initially make sense. But remember, we see the immediate – He sees the infinite. God instructed Elijah to dig a trench around the altar that would soon be filled with water. Elijah wanted God to consume his offering by fire, not by rain! The trench probably didn’t make sense to many, but Elijah was obedient. Do we trust God enough to obey Him even when things don’t add up? These “trenches” have a purpose. Just wait!
Pile up the wood.
In our life there are strongholds, hang-ups, weaknesses, and just plain sin that need removed. It needs to be burned away. Elijah placed wood on the altar as kindling for the sacrifice. The wood would be consumed by the fire as the sacrifice was offered. Look into your life and see what kindling needs placed onto the altar and burned away.
Lay the sacrifice on the altar.
This is the most difficult step – preparing the sacrifice and placing it on the altar. The stones, the trench, the wood were all preparation. Now comes the real obedience, placing our self on the altar. Everything else can be done perfectly but unless we are willing to take this step it means nothing.
So we do it.
We climb up onto the altar and lay back against the wood. Can you feel the broken branches poking your back? The uncomfortable position of your head? This is a weird feeling. Total surrender.
Saturated it with water.
As you lay on the altar, your life totally surrendered to God, you still do not quite understand the process. You’re being obedient to God and are expecting the fire to fall but it seems that life just keeps dumping more and more water on you. You remember the trench around the altar.
“What was it for anyway?” you wonder.
You look over the edge to check it out.
“What? Now even the trench seems to be getting full of water!”
Many people question your resolution to be faithful in the face of such uncertainty. You even entertain thoughts of getting up from the altar but then you refuse. You have come this far. God has never failed. You know the fire will fall. So you wait. The hours seem like days, the days like weeks, but you remain faithful.
Then suddenly, with a thunderous sound….
THE FIRE OF GOD FALLS!
Yes Lord, let the fire fall! That all-consuming fire! Not only is our life consumed totally by God, so are the waters of uncertainty, the failures and faults that we laid as kindling on the altar, even the altar itself is consumed by the fire – the amazing power – of God Himself! This what we’ve wanted for so long. The undeniable power of God in our lives! Those who doubted our conviction, even doubted our God, now see that He is the only true God. He is the only one who will answer by fire. The only one who can answer at all!
As we live our life for Christ, I believe many of us share the same desire. We want the power of God to blaze brightly in our life. We want the world to see Jesus in us through the way we live, the way we handle situations, and the way we lead our family. We want our life to make them hungry for something better than anything the world could give – a relationship with the Son of God.
For them to see something so great will require great sacrifice. Our life must become nothing to us so that God becomes everything.
I know it isn’t easy but I know it will be worth it.