Monday, November 10, 2003
In every sport, and in every season, there is always that one event that everyone calls "The Big Game." And it is not unusual for real champions to rise to the challenge and put in a powerful performance - so much so that they absolutely cream the other team! But there's also a strange phenomenon that often follows the Big Game - it's called the Big Letdown. It's amazing how a team that has just buried another great team can go into their next game all flat and sloppy. It is not uncommon for the winner of the Big Game to go into that next game - often against a much lesser opponent, and they look terrible - they lose miserably. They literally go right from powerful to pitiful.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Big Game And The Big Letdown."
It doesn't just happen in sports - it's happened to most of us who are trying to follow Jesus Christ. Take the prophet Elijah, for example. For him, the Big Game was at a place called Mt. Carmel where he challenged 450 false prophets of Baal to the ultimate showdown - whose God would send fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice on the altar?
Surprise! Baal never showed up - no matter how much his priests agonized. Our word for today from the Word of God begins in 1 Kings 18:36 as Elijah steps forward and prays. And I'm going to emphasize every time he mentions something about God in some way. "...O Lord ... let it be known today that You are God ... and that I am Your servant and have done all these things at Your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that You, O Lord are God..."
So, God sends fire ... the leadership of the false religion is done. A lopsided victory in the Big Game. Now, Act Two - the Big Letdown. The queen orders a hit on Elijah and he takes off to hide out. 1 Kings 19:4 says, he "prayed that he might die." What? What happened to the powerful warrior of the Battle of Mt. Carmel? He's gone from powerful to pitiful! How does Elijah go from powerful to pitiful in one roller coaster ride? The same way you and I do.
Listen to his prayer this time, and I'll emphasize every time he talks about himself. "...I have had enough, Lord ... Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors ... I have been very zealous for the Lord ... They have rejected Your covenant ... I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me."
When Elijah is at his most powerful, he is self-forgetting - he barely mentions himself but he refers to God 11 times! But when he's hurting and miserable, who's he focused on? Himself! And that's the story of our spiritual roller coaster, isn't it? You're powerful when you're self-forgetful and all about God. You're pitiful when you're God-forgetful and all about you. You lose all perspective. That's why God's answer to Elijah - and to us - is: "Go out and stand in the presence of the Lord." Stop lying around in your negativity, your fear, your discouragement, your self-pity - and let your Lord happen to you again! He dwarfs all that other stuff!
Satan knows he probably can't touch you in the rush of the Big Game - so he waits for the Big Letdown that often follows. But you don't have to let down. It was because you focused yourself on your very big God that you won so big in the Big Game. Now don't abandon the God of the Big Game because suddenly you're experiencing a letdown. This battle is the Lord's, too - and through Him, you can win this one, too!