Jan Mikael (7 March 2011)
""Outrunning Chariots" - by Gary Wilkerson"

 


"Outrunning Chariots" - by Gary Wilkerson - February 14, 2011

Elijah had just done the miraculous. He had singlehandedly confronted the
400 prophets of Baal and defeated them. God had given his prophet a powerful
victory. Elijah was seeing amazing things from heaven being supplied to his
life and ministry.

Then something happened. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah prayed for rain to come upon
the drought-ravaged land. As he sat praying on the mountaintop, Elijah
looked out to see if his cry was being answered. But there was no evidence
of a response from God. So Elijah prayed again. Still he saw no cloud. He
prayed again, and again, and again, and still no cloud appeared.

Maybe you're familiar with this experience. At times you've known great
victories in Christ. But then you needed something desperately and you
prayed for it. Yet no answer came. You listened to tapes, sought counsel
from your pastor, kept praying. But you didn't hear from God.

What did Elijah do during his confusing time of need? Scripture says he
covered his head with a cloak. Elijah was saying, in essence:

"Lord, I'm shutting out the world around me because I need a word from you.
We desperately need fresh rain to fall on the dry land. If it doesn't come,
we're sunk."

Then something happened. As Elijah lifted his head he saw a small formation
in the distant sky. It was a tiny cloud, no bigger than a person's fist. Now
Elijah knew God had heard him. He cried, "Here it is! God has answered my
prayer."

The prophet sent his servant, Gehazi, to deliver a message to King Ahab: "Go
up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you'"
(1 Kings 18:44, my italics). Elijah was telling the king, in effect, "I'll
meet you in Jezreel. But you'd better hurry in your gleaming chariot, or
you'll get stuck in the mud. And I'll beat you back to the city."

God has an important message for his people through
Elijah's story. It all has to do with chariots.

Throughout the Old Testament, chariots played a central role in the economy.

Jezreel was known as a city of chariots. It excelled in warfare because of
its vast fleet of iron vehicles made for swift movement in battle. In
Elijah's story, chariots represent the strength of man. They signify the
power to speed ahead with great agility, the ability to accomplish something
through a powerful, dominating resource.

Today there's a certain "chariot lifestyle" - one of comfort and ease, where
all our needs are provided. If we need something we write a check for it. If
we want to do something we go ahead and do it. The chariot lifestyle is nice
because we have access to all the resources we need for whatever we want.

Of course, to a Christian, the chariot lifestyle can have great appeal. As
we look at the world's standard of success we see impressive "chariots" and
"stallions." These are the means, the material wealth, that provide people
with ease and security. Such people have everything they need to speed
ahead out of the rain and keep themselves comfortable at all times.

But the servant of God doesn't seek those things primarily. Instead, he
seeks to obey his master's voice and pursue the concerns of his kingdom. The
Christian learns early in his faith walk that by pursuing the Lord first,
"all these things will be added to him" (Matthew 6:33).

Yet this same believer may find himself in lack at times. He doesn't have
the resources to do certain things for his family. He doesn't see his
calling or ministry being fulfilled. So he's tempted to think, "The
resources are out there, and the world is using them to great effect. But I
don't have any of them. I need them to accomplish God's work. How can I get
hold of them?"

Elijah knew better than to look to the world's resources. Imagine the scene
as he addressed King Ahab. There stood the king, perched high in his
brilliant chariot, towering over the lowly prophet. Yet Elijah spoke boldly
to Ahab:
"You have the most impressive power on earth, commanding a vast fleet of
chariots pulled by mighty stallions. But even your swift chariots are no
match for the Lord's power. You'd better get going now, Ahab. God is going
to get me to Jezreel before you."

Next we read, "The hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his
garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel" (1 Kings 18:46).
God's man outran a chariot! And this was over a distance of many miles. How
did Elijah accomplish this?
The phrase "gathered up his garment" means, essentially, "gird up your
loins." All Elijah did was to
"gird up his loins" - meaning, he prepared himself.

First Peter 1:13 tells us to "gird up the loins of your mind."

The apostle Paul tells us we've been called by God to run a race. Peter
refers to this race also when he tells us to gird up the loins of our mind.
He's saying we need to prepare ourselves for the contest by reinforcing our
belief and trust in the Lord.

You see, we all have a heavenly calling preordained by God. Maybe the Holy
Spirit has given you a vision for what your calling is. But there's a big
gap between your high calling and seeing it fulfilled. At times that gap can
tempt you to despair.
That's the very reason Peter tells you to gird up the loins of your mind -
to remind yourself of a certain truth about your God. Elijah's story gives
us this truth:

"When you see chariots in front of you, carrying people swiftly toward their
goals, don't despair. Do not be dismayed at the power they have but that you
lack. God has a different way for you. When you set your eyes on the Father
and let his powerful hand come upon you, you can outrun
chariots."

David knew this truth about the heavenly Father. He uses the very same image
to convey God's desire to supply his people:
"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in
the name of the Lord our God" (Psalm 20:7).

Right now, you may seem to be in lack. Yet God says you can do more than
people who have everything. How? God longs to show himself strong to those
whose hearts are completely his.

The Lord is telling us, "You may think you don't have what you need. But you
don't need the world's resources.
You don't need a chariot's speed, because my speed is faster. If you'll
trust me to accomplish my purpose in your life, you'll see it happen faster
than you could imagine.
I'll do it more powerfully, with more authority - and I'll be glorified
through your life."

Imagine Elijah outracing Ahab to Jezreel on foot. And he had confidence
enough in God to boast about it - even before it happened! If we're honest,
we'll admit that most of us can only pretend to have that kind of
confidence.

Let me illustrate by telling about some "chariot races"
my wife and I engage in. Our family is like most. We require two cars to be
everywhere we need to be. Often this means my wife and I end up at the same
event in two cars. When that happens, an unspoken competition arises between
us: Who'll get home first?

We don't break the law, but we each put the pedal to the metal going home,
using every shortcut to shave time. She'll pass me with a wave on one
stretch, then I'll pass her with a casual yawn. I love it when I beat her
home. I rush out of the car, zip out of the garage, then shoot through the
kitchen and into the living room. I turn on the TV, open the newspaper and
prop up my feet. Even though I'm totally out of breath, I act nonchalant as
she walks in: "Oh, hi. You're finally home."

That's just how I imagine Elijah reacting when Ahab arrives in Jezreel. The
king has been whipping his horses like Ben Hur. Yet as he pulls into the
city, there stands Elijah casually reading a scroll. Elijah looks up,
stifles a yawn and says, "Oh, you finally made it."

Here is the message from this scene: You're going to see God's promises come
to pass because He gives you the power to do it - not because of some
worldly chariot.

What if Elijah had had access to an actual chariot? His vehicle would have
been no match for Ahab's. As the rain falls in torrents, Elijah would have
been mired down. And he would be stuck because he had committed to using the
chariot. He would have missed the Lord's primary calling - which is to rely
entirely on him.

Haggai describes an experience
faced by many Christians who
pursue a God-given vision.

In Haggai 2:15-16, the children of Israel were having difficulty
constructing a building. Their cry was, "We needed to draw 50 measures of
material to stone this building. But we only got 20 measures."

Maybe this describes your own life or calling.
You need certain "measures" to accomplish what God has set before you, but
you get only a part of it. You hope for one amount but receive a smaller
one.

God has a message for you through Elijah's story. It is this: He wants to
supply for us what we can't supply for ourselves. Indeed, Jesus tells us the
Father longs to double our harvest. In John 4:35 Jesus and his disciples
were walking near some grain fields. He pointed to the fields and said to
his followers.
"The fields are ready for harvest. So, don't say, 'There's going to be a
harvest four months from now.' Lift up your eyes. The harvest is ready even
now."

But the disciples were perplexed. They saw that the plants were only half
grown. They thought, "Anyone with common sense can see these fields are
nowhere near ready for harvest."
But of course, Jesus was talking about the harvest of souls for God's
kingdom.

The lesson of the harvest has a broader meaning for our lives as well. To
us, it has to do with God's kingdom purposes in our lives.
Jesus is telling us: "You don't have to wait four months to be holy. You
don't have to wait to
overcome your sin or have a burning passion for me. I've made all those
things available to you right now. It may look impossible to you. And it is,
in your own strength and ability. But I am expediting all things. There can
be no excuses among those who follow me. I have set before you all things to
grasp!"

I have a question to ask of every student or young working person who's
reading this. Do you say to yourself, "I'll wait till I graduate before I
stop drinking"? or, "I'll wait till I'm older to stop sleeping around and
settle down in marriage"? or, "I just want to taste a little more of the
world before I give my all to Jesus"?

Jesus' lesson of the harvest fields says No to all of that. He declared to
all who would follow him: "Now is the time." This lesson of the harvest
addresses every human excuse.

"There is no waiting in my kingdom. If you wait four months, the harvest
will pass you by. Don't let any excuse sidetrack you. In my kingdom, today
is the day. Now is the time to follow me. Now is my time for my calling on
you to be fulfilled!"

If this is true of you, I offer a challenge. Write down your excuse on a
piece of paper. Read it for the last time. Then crumple that paper and toss
it in the trash. Say,
"I'm leaving that excuse behind me. I have no more excuses. Jesus says his
harvest in my life is ripe right now."

The prophet Amos also speaks of a double harvest for God's people in the
last days:

"'Behold, the days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when the plowman shall
overtake the reapers and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the
mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it'"
(Amos 9:13).
Amos is saying, in effect, "Not only are the fields ripe four months early.
The plowman is going to overtake the reaper!"

Once again, the message was incomprehensible to Amos' listeners. They knew
that first came the plowing, then came the sowing of seeds, then came the
reaping of the harvest.
Besides, it was physically impossible for both a plowman and a reaper to
labor in the same spot at the same time. Yet that's exactly what Amos was
describing. He was suggesting two crops in one season < a total
impossibility!

But God wanted to bring about a double harvest in Israel.

So, what is the double harvest in your life? What issue or situation is God
speaking to you about? Is it a financial need? Is it your marriage, your
children, your household situation, your calling?
No matter what it is, he has reserved for you a double harvest - of his
presence, his grace, his resources, all the things you need for life.

His Word asks us, "Does it all seem impossible? Does it seem out of reach?
Maybe you're dismayed that you need a measure of 20. Well, I'm going to give
you a measure of 40. Do you think you need 100? You'll receive 200."
Simply put, we are not to look to the world for our resources. Our heavenly
Father owns them all. And he wants to resource us with his power, his glory,
his supernatural ability.

Maybe you're thinking:
"This all sounds good - strength for the journey,
ability to outrun a chariot, a double harvest. So,
how do I get it in my life?"

Elisha, the successor to Elijah, provides our example.

Elisha inherited from Elijah the role of prophet in the land. In 2 Kings 4,
Elisha encountered one of his first big tests. He was approached by a
Shunammite couple whose son had just died.
In desperation, the wife told Elisha, "I've prayed and fasted, wept and
pled. But I've received nothing
from the Lord. With my son gone, I don't have the strength to go on. I just
don't understand what God is doing. This is more than I can bear."

Elisha responded by doing something unusual. "He said to [his servant]
Gehazi, 'Tie up your garment'" (2 King 4:29).
In other words, "Gird up your loins." Then he said, "Take my staff in your
hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you,
do not reply. Then lay my staff on the face of the child."

Gehazi did as Elisha instructed him. He went to the family's home and laid
his staff on the face of the dead child. But there was no sign of life.
So Gehazi returned to Elisha saying, "The child has not awakened."

Here is my question to you: What do you do when your staff
doesn't work? Where do you turn when every effort you put
forth doesn't accomplish its purpose? What do you resort to
when everything you've tried has brought no result?

There comes a time when we have no resource but Jesus alone. He is our
solution, and in this story, Elisha is a type of Christ. He went to that
Shunammite family and stretched himself out over the body of the dead boy.
When he was face to face, foot to foot, hand to hand over the child, he
breathed into him.

What happened then?
Scripture says the boy sneezed seven times. He was alive!

Tell me, what brought about this life? Jesus himself
breathed into the situation. When we have no hope, no
resources, no ability, Christ breathes his super-natural
life into our circumstance. We need him to lie down on our
problem and breathe his resurrection life into it.

Are you still looking to trust in the mighty chariots of the world???

Maybe all this time you've had your eye on an iron chariot of some kind.
Your prayer life has been aimed at God to provide it for you.
But your Father may be telling you: "You don't need that chariot. I'm going
to provide you with
everything you need. I'll give you power not just for the 20 measures you
think you need, but for the 50 measures I want you to have."

Make this your prayer:
"Lord, I have nothing - but you have everything.
No resource in this world can compare to you and
your power.
And I need you now. If you don't breathe life into
my problem, I won't make it. I can't do it, but you
can, Lord. With you, I can Outrun Chariots!"
_______________________________________________

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CONTACT INFO

David Wilkerson
World Challenge
P.O. Box 260
Lindale, Texas 75771 | USA
Phone (903) 963-8626
Fax (903) 963-5601
E-mail address:
contact@worldchallenge.org