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Friday, November 4, 2022

A Hand-sized cloud filled with hope


A story in 1 Kings 18 of the good book will knock your socks off. The hero in this story is, of course, God, but his co-star is Elijah. I'll spare you all the details because reading it yourself is best.

Basically, Elijah gets into a showdown with the Prophets of Baal. He challenges them to a "burnt-offering" contest. The rules consisted of each team, The God Team and the Baal (false idol) Team, placing a bull on an altar and praying to their God to come and burn up the offerings. Not to spoil it for you, but as you can imagine, the Baal team dances and calls out to their God all day. The dead bull lay there patiently waiting for his cremation. Never happened.

When it is Elijah’s turn, he puts the bull on the altar and digs a trench around it. He fills it with water and douses the whole thing until it's soaking. He calls out to the one true God who wastes no time proving to the crowd who is Boss! He sent an all-consuming fire from heaven that was so great it even licked up the water. Many were brought to their knees to worship the one true God that day.

Now many of you may know this story. I had read it or heard it many times. But just as God does, when we open His word, he reveals something new that hits all the right feels at the right moment.

The rest of the story is what got my attention. After this, Elijah told King Ahab (one of the meanest hombres to walk the dusty trails of the Holy land) to prepare his crew because heavy rain was coming. With no clouds in the sky, Elijah climbs to the top of Mt. Carmel with his servant. He bent down to the ground, put his face between his knees, and began praying for rain. Six times Elijah sent his servant to the edge to look out toward the sea to see if there was any sign of rain. Finally, returning from his seventh trip to the edge, his servant reported seeing a cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea.

Elijah doesn't get up and go to the edge to see if his servant is telling the truth. He doesn't dismiss such a small cloud and starts praying for a more considerable cloud or drizzle. Nope, that tiny hand-sized cloud gave Elijah enough hope to trust that God was fixin’ to do something big. He then sent his servant to tell that evil, mean-spirited ol' Ahab to hitch up and head out 'cause a storm is a-brewin’!

Meanwhile, God puts on another show. The sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, and heavy rain came as Ahab's taillights diminished on the road to Jezreel.

I know enough miracles are happening in these stories to leave you on the edge of your seat. I don’t want to dismiss God’s mighty works here, but the real plot twist for me is that little hand-sized cloud and the big hope it gave Elijah.

Friend, how many times have you prayed fervently for something? How often, like Elijah, have you taken on a posture of prayer, pleading for a miracle and waiting expectantly for it to happen? I've got a list a mile long. But the real question is this; How many times has God given you a glimmer of hope only for you to doubt it’s happening? How many times does God give you a hand-sized cloud, and you sit crouched over, praying for a bigger cloud of assurance? Oh, friend, I am relentlessly guilty of this! "I see the hand cloud of hope you've given me, God, but what if…?"

Ditch the doubt, folks, and jump up as Elijah did and trust God will do something significant with that tad bit of hope. Cling to every tiny glimpse of promise He shows you, and don't look back. Run with it as Elijah did. Literally! The scripture goes on to tell us that after Elijah told Ahab to get the heck out of Dodge City, the power of the Lord came upon him; he rolled up his pant legs (or tucked his cloak into his belt, in this case) and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. This assurance in God’s plan empowered Elijah to do something seemingly impossible. So can we do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13).

Elijah looked on that small cloud with complete confidence in God that he would bring the rain – GOD WOULD DO THE BIG THING ELIJAH WAS PRAYING FOR! And he ran with it – never looking back!

And He will do it for you also, friend! Pray…trust…wait expectantly! He’s got big things on the horizon for you!



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