Twice a year, I do an overhaul cleaning in my home. I think more often than that would be spoiling the house, letting it think cleanliness is the status quo, rather than a special treat. So, you can imagine that in the intervening 6 months, things can get pretty messy.**
I always feel this HUGE sense of accomplishment as my house transforms from the set of the Munsters into Stillwater CottageTM by Kinkade. No, seriously, it looks just like that, swan and everything. Don’t judge, I just like a challenge.
That reminds me of when Elijah was delivering his You-Got-Served smackdown to the prophets of Baal. He trash talks ‘em, taunts them with “your god must be sleeping or too busy with his conversation” to come display his godly chops.
Meanwhile, Elijah’s preparing a burnt sacrifice and waters down the altar, to show off. They dig a trench and pour so much water on it, that the trench fills. When God shows up, he consumes the whole thing, water and all, with fire. Then those prophets of Baal were all, like, Holy Shoji Tabuchi, Batman! That altar is on FIRE!
It’s like my house before the cleaning – marinated in junk and dust, the breeding ground for a cleansing miracle (and allergens that make me green around the gills). I am fairly sure we do that with our spiritual life, too. We water down the altar, so that when God shows up – there’s no question about the change. As I see it, there are three levels of saturation:
Level 1: Stop reading the Bible.
It’s passive and doesn’t take much commitment. It cuts off the air supply that the fire would feed on. No kindling, no fire. You don’t have the Word in your heart? That’s good!
You don’t need the lamp, because God’s going to engulf your life with spiritual fire… when it happens, jump back!
Level 2: Pick up a sinful habit.
Depending on the church you attend, this could be a bit more difficult. If your church is pretty permissive, it’s going to be hard to find a good gateway sin with which to water down your altar. My church is on the liberal side – we’re cool with the dancing, drinking, smoking and gluttony (see Sunday potlucks), so, I’m going to go with…. Littering. It is a sin that nicely parallels my bi-annual cleaning example.
Let’s see God consume my altar when I graduate to Messing with Texas.
Level 3: Call God Out
The weekend before the Great House Cleaning, I start chanting under my breath “the house will clean itself… the house will clean itself.” As C-day approaches, I ramp up the effrontery, “we have self cleaning ovens, toilets, and even UNDERWEAR… surely this could be an undercover self-cleaning abode.” Do this with God. Start the reverse-psychology… a real God would take my hardened heart, lack of prayer life, refusal to read the Bible and sins and still light my life on Fire. If he were any kind of God, he could still do amazing work through my sodden spiritual self.
Chances are, you’ll get a fire, all right, complete with eau de sulphur and a hint of brimstone. After all the water you’ve used to soak that altar in your heart, when God ignites your sacrifice, it’s going to be a bonfire visible from the International Space Station.
How do you challenge God?
What feats do you include to add another level of difficulty to setting your life ablaze?