Sometimes making decisions is as difficult as climbing through a barbed wire fence. You are likely to get hung up in the barbs, or details, but must choose which is the best way to proceed. You straddle the fence momentarily trying to decide which is the best route to take. Should you continue going to the other side and rip your pants in the process, or would it be best to get loose and stay on this side? Straddling the fence in life means to support both sides of an issue. We don’t want to commit to either side because we are afraid of making a mistake or possibly because we want what both sides have to offer.
In 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah said, “How long are you going to waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” Elijah challenged the people to stop straddling the fence and make a choice. They wanted to worship God because of their history, yet they also wanted the excitement of the new ways of Baal. Elijah did not hesitate to stand up for the God he believed in. He instructed the prophets of Baal to prepare a bull for sacrifice, lay it on their altar, but not set fire to it. In verse 24, Elijah says, “The God who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” The people called out to Baal to prove himself by burning the sacrifice. They danced around the altar, cut themselves, and raved about all day with no reply from Baal. They did all this for a god that could not prove himself. A god which did not exist, but instead had been created in their own minds. A god whose only power was to keep them from the one true God.
Finally Elijah gathered the people around him as he repaired the broken, neglected, and rejected altar of the Lord. He dug a trench around it and prepared the bull for offering. Four large jars of water were poured over both the offering and the wood, not just once, but three times. Elijah did not spend hours dancing, cutting, raving about, and begging for a response. He simply prayed with confidence asking God to prove Himself. 1 Kings 18:38-39 says, “Immediately the fire of the LORD flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the ditch! And when the people saw it, they fell on their faces and cried out, ‘The LORD is God! The LORD is God!’ ”
These people waited all day for their god to set fire to dry wood and prove himself, but then the LORD immediately set fire to a wet offering and wet wood. His power did not stop there! The stones, the dust, and even the water were consumed by the fire!
“Like my old pappy used to say, ‘A hog that straddles a fence ain’t likely to wind up no place.’” (Cole Younger) Like the hog, if we straddle the fence, it is possible that our relationship with God is going nowhere. As Christians, we straddle the fence by living our lives similar to that of nonbelievers. The ways of the world look very appealing at times. In reality, we are attached to the world and afraid to let go. We want the forgiveness and security that God offers, but we aren’t willing to completely give up our old life and follow him. We can’t grow because worldly things are holding us back. We may rip our pants as we break free of those worldly ties, but we are sure to see the power of God! Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Whether its money, some other worldly attraction, or the one true God, we must make a choice. Stop straddling the fence. Choose you this day whom you will serve!