ARLetters from Mom: Fixing Your Eyes on JesusA mother's advice on standing firmly planted in the LordIn the account of Elijah's confrontation with the Israelites on Mount Carmel, the people needed convincing between serving God and Baal. Although an accurate comparison between these times and those in 1 Kings cannot be made, it seems that living in the twenty-first century poses challenges far greater and more numerous than those of the Israelites long ago. Nevertheless, you will not falter as they did, not because you are better than the Israelites, but because the Lord Himself will bless you and keep you. Only fix your eyes on Jesus and stand firmly planted in His word.
Just the other day,
I was revisiting the account of Elijah's confrontation with the Israelites
on Mount Carmel when I stopped to ponder over what the prophet said and
what the people did not say: "How long will you falter between two
opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, then follow him.
But the people answered him not a word" (1 Kings 18:21). You know the
rest of the story. The people needed some convincing, but in the end
"they fell on their faces: and they said, 'The Lord, He is God! The
Lord, He is God!'" (1 Kings 18:39)
I looked up the word
"falter" in my dictionary. The definition read, "move, walk
or act hesitantly, usually because of weakness, fear, or indecision."
Curious, I returned to the Bible and scoured the political and cultural
landscape of the time, trying to understand the quandary the Israelites
I think you already
know that this incident occurred when Ahab was the king of Israel. The
Bible tells us that he "did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than
any of those before him" (1 Kgs 16:30). As I went back and forth in
the Scriptures concerning this man, I saw that Ahab did as he pleased (1
Kgs 16:31-33). He had no regard for the God of Israel and His commandments
(Ex 33-34). Not only did Ahab marry a foreign bride who did not know God,
he essentially married her gods as well. I also learned that Ahab was an
ungodly man even before he married Jezebel--he was as wicked as Jeroboam.
Jeroboam was king of
Israel long before Ahab was born. The Bible tells us that at a time when
he was feeling insecure on the throne, Jeroboam devised a scheme to secure
the people's allegiance. Unfortunately, he did so by turning the people
away from the Lord God of Israel (1 Kgs 11:28-12:33).
Now, it must be said
that the Israelites, as a whole, prided themselves on the knowledge that
they, out of all the people on the face of the earth, were the chosen
people of God. This knowledge was handed down from one generation to the
next since as far back as the time of Moses, a man whom God had used to
liberate their ancestors from slavery in Egypt (Deut 7:6).
But the generation
in Jeroboam's time did not understand what it meant to be God's chosen
people. When their new king began introducing beliefs that contradicted
the Lord's will, these Israelites did not think anything was amiss. When
Jeroboam gave them two golden calves to worship, they accepted these false
gods without question, as they did the shrines and the priests (1 Kgs
12:26-33). Little by little, Jeroboam led the Israelites farther and
farther away from the Lord their God, and they were none the wiser.
After Jeroboam, five
kings came and went before Ahab ascended to the throne. All seven men, it
is written, "did evil," "sinned," and "caused
Israel to sin" (1 Kgs 11-16). Living under these circumstances, God's
chosen people never really had the opportunity to get to know Him. No
wonder Elijah the prophet needed to go to such great lengths to show them
who alone was the Lord their God.
So I thought of you,
and of all the young people in church, and of the times in which we live.
Although I cannot actually make a fair comparison between these times and
those in 1 Kings, it seems to me that, living in the twenty-first century,
you and your peers face challenges far greater and more numerous than
those of the Israelites who lived about 2850 years ago. To give you an
idea of how much times have changed even in my own lifetime, what I once
knew as a wide world is now merely a global village. People come and go;
information flows freely; ideas bounce back and forth.
This is especially
true now that personal computers are here to stay. In this age of the
internet, with the click of a "mouse" you're "online"
and connected to anyone or anywhere on the "world wide web," at
any time of day or night. The advantages are many. When you need to
research a topic for school or work, all you have to do is type a keyword
into the computer. In a matter of seconds, you're searching the archives
of a magnificent library. This wonderful technology also brings new
meanings to old phrases like "pop in to say hello" and "a
balancing act," so that even as you're scrutinizing facts and
figures, you're also very naturally making conversation with your friends
by way of those "instant messages."
online is like being out in an open field where anybody can take a shot at
you. Along with the harmless junk mail that fills up your online mailbox,
there's the ever-present threat of "viruses" that are out to
infect your computer and affect your ability to make good use of this
powerful technology. But from what I have seen and heard, there are more
harmful threats that can infect your heart and mind and affect your
ability to care for your soul. Just as with those dangers you face in an
open field, you may not always know who is trying to take a shot at you or
where the shot is coming from. Sometimes, too, the danger just happens to
be out there in the field, and you only stumble upon it accidentally.
So should you stay
away from computers and the internet? Would this protect you from people,
information, and ideas that turn your heart and mind away from the one
true God? The answer is no, for as you already know, danger is not only
present when you venture out into the open field; sometimes, danger lies
close to home.
Having said all of
this, however, I know there is one thing that sets you and your peers
apart from those Israelites who stood on Mount Carmel that day--you need
no convincing that the Lord alone is God. By His grace, our Lord Jesus has
introduced Himself to you and given you the opportunity to get to know Him
on a personal level. I see evidence of this relationship reflected in the
way that, over the years, you have learned little by little to search the
Scriptures to fathom God's will and include Him in your everyday lives.
Still, you are
living in the real world, where the fabric of society is a patchwork of
many thoughts and beliefs. There's no escaping this reality. All you have
to do is wake up in the morning and turn on the radio or television.
You'll read all about it when you pick up the newspaper. It's there when
you step out into the street, when you're in school, at work, or at the
marketplace. Even when you think you've escaped into a movie theater to
relax after a hard day's work, it's staring right back at you. Perhaps the
only time you don't have to deal with it is when you are fast asleep. This
is the landscape of our times. Though not a carbon copy of the Israelites'
times, it is reminiscent of theirs.
What's that? We know
better than to go down that road?
That's easier said
than done. I know. I've been there. I have, in the breath it took me to
assure friends that God will answer their prayers, also asked them to keep
their fingers crossed. I have devoured articles about the applications of
feng shui in the home. I have scanned horoscopes in the morning
Nevertheless, I am
confident that you and your peers will aim for higher ground where you
won't get bogged down or swept away. You will do so not because you know
better than the Israelites, but because the Lord Himself will bless you
and keep you. Only fix your eyes on Jesus and stand firmly planted in His
Written as a
mother would her child, "Letters from Mom" addresses the struggles of our young people as they step toward the threshold of adulthood. This column hopes to encourage, comfort, and urge the youth to continue living as children of God. Please send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.