“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is it you, your troubler of Israel?’” (1 Kings 18:17)
Often the kids will get upset when they receive consequences for their actions. Can you believe it that they get mad at me when they are experiencing consequences for their answers? Well don’t be too surprised. It actually happens. They get angry at me and treat me with disdain, contempt and general malice. I have a standard response as they wallow in their anger. Did you know when you violated this family rule that you would experience a penalty? (Sniff sniff) “yes.” Then who should you be angry at? Learn your lesson and move on.
Often the problem in our parenting and okay, in my relationship with God is blame- shifting. Adam did this. “It was the woman you gave me!” Eve did this, “The snake, it was the snake.” My kids do this. Well if you would stop lecturing me, I’d have time to clean my room!”
Okay, maybe I do it too. But if it wasn’t for those darn kids… Now I sound like a Scooby Doo villain.
Now the king had a genuine beef with Elijah. The guy stopped the rain and Israel was experiencing a three-year drought as a result. This indeed was troublesome. But the reality here, like with my kids is that the mess that they are in was of their own making.
I had a student a few years back who was having trouble prioritizing his time and ended up on academic probation at the university. His quote to me told me he gets it. “I’m neck deep in natural consequences.” He could have blamed the mean administrators who were coming down on him. He could have blamed Cru or his friends which offered pleasant distractions from doing what he knew he needed to do. But he saw it for what it was. And he grew from that. Ahab is neck deep in natural consequences and the trouble brought to Israel was all on him.
Elijah sets things in perspective quickly for King Ahab. “I have not troubled Israel but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.” Elijah said “Baals,” plural because Baal worship involved a system of several different deities who kept battling each other over conjugal rights with one of the female deities.
It’s not me, it’s you.
George Costanza may have invented the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me,” in his diplomatic breakup tactic, but Elijah has none of that. It’s not me, it’s you! As a teacher and Christian leader, you would think I am all about truth. I am about lots of truth – as long as it pertains to other people. When it’s directed at me, I prefer the illusion that everyone is totally pleased with me. This can be my biggest obstacle to experiencing growth. There are precious few Elijahs running around. If you don’t have one, get one. Thankfully, I work in an environment that really values feedback and graciously pushes past my preferences for blissful and ignorant isolation. But I need to continue to grow and to seek out men in my life who are unafraid to tell me what they see in me. What systems do you have in place in your own life to hear truth about yourself so that you can grow?