It doesn’t get much more fantastic than a nation called out to witness a show down between the gods of the culture and Jehovah.
It doesn’t get much more fantastic than an altar, wood and sacrifice, intended for fire, but drenched in water.
It doesn’t get much more fantastic than spontaneous fire falling out of heaven and consuming that altar, wood and sacrifice.
It doesn’t get much more fantastic than a nation in full-blown revival, repenting and returning to the Lord.
It doesn’t get much more fantastic than praying rain down on a nation after years of drought.
This is fantastic!
It is any prophet’s dream.
But what happens when you run out of fantastic?
Elijah did… and only a day or so after the high point of his ministry at Mount Carmel. He runs the opposite direction from his calling and assignment and cuts himself off from everyone.
Reuben Welch wrote a book years ago entitled, “When You Run Out of Fantastic… Persevere.” That challenge has stayed with me most of my ministry life. I think we learn some valuable lessons from Elijah’s experience when he ran out of fantastic.
1. He lay down and slept.
There are times when you just need some good sleep. I remember going on a three day prayer retreat years ago, where I pretty much slept for three days… and felt guilty about it. But it was what I needed most.
2. The Lord fed him there.
I have found myself, at the moment I needed it the most, running “by accident” into a book, a podcast lecture or sermon, or an encouraging unexpected call from a trusted friend or colleague that absolutely nourished me for the journey.
3. With some rest and food in him, Elijah headed for the mountain of God.
At least, in the depths of his discouragement, Elijah had the sense to know that what he needed most right then was to get himself into the presence of God.
4. At this moment in his life, God did not reveal Himself to Elijah in the fantastic.
Wind, earthquake, fire… but God was not in those manifestations at that time. Maybe some other time, but not now.
5. But, Elijah persevered in “standing on the mountain before the Lord.”
When you run out of fantastic, persevere! And Elijah’s reward was still small whisper of the Lord, reassuring the prophet that he was not alone and that he still had a heavenly assignment in which he was to pour his energies.
I’ve pastored now in the same region for 28 years. In that time I have seen God do some fantastic things in the ministries of the church I serve. I have also witnessed the rise and unfortunate fall of other “fantastic” ministries in our region. It is way too easy to become enamored with or even addicted to fantastic.
The problem is that fantastic has a short shelf life.
I think it is way more important what we do when we run out of fantastic. And the answer is tucked into 1 Kings 19. We persevere!