What did you say?!

My mother was rarely one to attend theme parks, but an aunt took groups of kids, and we’d spend the day. Midday we’d all trek back to the car to eat our sack lunches, and then we’d venture back to the park to continue our full day of fun, rides, games, and…yummy treats.

As a kid, I was terrified of many of the rides but more afraid of being left out, so I rode with everyone else. During one visit, I can recall getting on all the thrill rides, except one: the ‘Hay Baler.’ I had just gotten an ice cream cone as we rounded the next corner in the park when the other kids spotted the Hay Baler — a ride where the cars zoomed in an asymmetrical circle, giving the feeling of going up, down, and around. Naturally, I walked toward the line with everyone else. That’s when it all went wrong.

My aunt told me that I couldn’t get in line with my ice cream, but I protested, knowing I’d be finished before it was time for us to ride. Her stern response was for me to wait for them on the bench a few yards away from the ride. Needless to say, I was devastated. Being told to stay there alone was the worst form of punishment I could receive, and all I did was order an ice cream cone!

My fear of being alone triggered all types of responses. That’s generally how fear works — being afraid of one thing snowballs into everything that could possibly go wrong, no matter how irrational. This is what happened with Elijah in today’s reading (1 Kings 18:1-8). By the power of God Elijah undeniably (and fearlessly) defeated hundreds of false prophets. A chapter later, he believed he was alone and was running for his life.

Why didn’t it matter that he was “alone” the day before? What was different about today? Perhaps, like me, Elijah let fear shift his focus. When Elijah thought he was alone, God came and spoke to him. I thought I was alone but had a different experience. 

While I sat mumbling, grumbling, and mouthing my disdain, my aunt and cousins approached me from a different direction. All I heard was, ‘What did you say?!’ Quite a different type of reminder that I wasn’t alone, but just as jarring as the one Elijah received.

When we let fear drive, we end up in destinations that will reinforce the negative feelings that fear provokes. My aunt didn’t love me so much as to take me to a theme park, only to let me be kidnapped while I ate ice cream. Just like God didn’t leave Elijah after his victory. And He hasn’t left you. No matter what it looks like, watch what you say and look for Him to show Himself to you!

Life Application: Jot down one of your greatest fears. Above it, write at least one victory you’ve experienced. Below, write a verse God has used to remind you He’s present.

Reflection: Has fear ever provoked you to respond negatively to someone you love? Jot a note or message of apology. If it’s God, ask Him to forgive you.

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