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When God Talks Back
by Martin Wiles
05/30/11
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I Kings 18:20-40
(excerpt from Morning Meditations by Martin Wiles)
I Kings 18:36-37 O Lord…prove today that you are God in Israel… O Lord, answer me! (NLT)
Sass. According to one online dictionary, it means disrespectful speech. Back talk. This was my dad’s definition as well, but with one major difference. He gave a graphic expression of what sass leads to-pain.
As a boy of nine, my bedroom wall hosted a list of framed rules. One warned against sassing my parents then gave the consequences. Even at that age I knew the definition of sassing. Dad could have put, “Don’t talk back,” but he chose “Don’t sass.” I knew this meant I better not talk back to my parents.
I suppose the word stuck because I used it with my children. “Don’t sass me” was my typical response when they would balk at something I instructed them to do. I’m sure the commands to Honor your father and mother and Children, obey your parents were at the heart of mine and Dad’s rule.
But what happens when God talks back? He did to Elijah the prophet on Mount Carmel. Elijah was in a contest with pagan prophets. The challenge was determining who the real god was-Baal or the God of Israel. Speaking by fire was the chosen method of answering. Courteous Elijah allowed the pagan prophets first dibs. No answer. Sassy Elijah asked God to answer. Fire fell and consumed his sacrifice. God talked back.
Some question God’s existence because he doesn’t speak as he did during ancient times. Perhaps a more appropriate question is whether we would listen if God spoke.
In reality, God does speak. When we read the Bible, pray, sing, attend church or listen to music or our Christian friends. He also speaks through our conscience-the little voice inside that lets us know when we’re on or off track. And through the outstretched hand of the homeless person requesting help. Or through the lady whose car broke down on the interstate. Or the single mom who has her hands full. Fire doesn’t fall, but the intensity of his voice is just as sharp when we listen.
Prayer: Lord, in whatever way you speak, give me courage to listen and act.

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