The joy and excitement of last week’s Vacation Bible Adventure still resonates in my soul. It was a great week of singing songs, making crafts, playing games and telling Bible stories. The coordinators, Laura Holtmeier and Tonya Bushard, asked me to be the storyteller and I was able to tap some of my passion for the dramatic. With the help of Adam Behnken, we relived stories from the Old and New Testament. The children were called to imagine God’s great acts of power and compassion.
One day we retold the story of Elijah confronting the 450 prophets of Baal from I Kings 18. We had the children build an altar in a plastic tub with stone and wood. They prepared a sacrifice of chocolate as we reimaged the story. We even had the children drench the “altar” with pitchers of water, like Elijah. Then, prior to calling for the LORD God to send down fire, I had to intervene as a fireman. I warned them because when Elijah called down the fire, it consumed not just the sacrifice, but the wood, stones and water. I had to prevent the children “from burning down the church.” Unfortunately, the chocolate was still lost due to the pitchers of water.
Our story telling may not be “historically accurate,” but it does place us in the story, participants in God’s great story. One of my criticisms of modern Biblical studies is that we can get so bogged down in the historical analysis that we forget the story is meant to engage us as readers. Scholarship can sometimes place us “over” the text, as a kind of superior critic, when actually God wants to place us “under” the text or “within” the story, so that our hearts, minds, imaginations can be reshaped in God’s image.
As I read the story of Elijah, and visualize the people watching this confrontation, I wonder which side I would be rooting for. After all, Baal is the ancient version of our own idols and false gods that we give allegiance to: popularity, success, wealth and status. Baal was the popular god of Israel at the time, that is why 450 prophets stood against Elijah. As I enter the story, sometimes I am Elijah, but often I am one of bystanders or a prophet of Baal. Through the story, I encounter the call of God to be faithful in my time and place.
How has a Biblical story confronted you and your life?
Lord Jesus, help me to read your Word so that your Word enters into my life.