I must say that I love the Old Testament. There are just so many stories that relate to our lives. The story of Elijah and his contest with the priests of Baal is a dramatic example of the power of the Lord over all the earth. He is the supreme God, the only God (see 1 Kings 18:39).
An approach that was very effective with the young people that we worked with has to do with our tendency to blame other people for our problems. When Ahab meets with Elijah he says, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17) I asked the youth, “do you ever sound like this? When was the last time you blamed your problems on someone else?”
At first they didn’t see how we are like Ahab, but with some prompting we began to analyze what it was Ahab was doing. In his mind, Ahab saw Elijah as the source of the drought, the source of the bad economy in Israel, indeed Elijah was the wellspring of all his problems.
I asked several questions to get the discussion moving along. Here are a few of them:
Ahab blamed Elijah because he didn’t want to take responsibility for his problems. How are we like Ahab? When have you seen someone act like this?
When have you changed something in your life? What was it?
What was the catalyst in your change? In other words, can you think of what it was that moved you to make a change in your life?
The students gave some well thought out responses. There was a great spirit in the room as we examined ourselves and our motives for our behavior. Some of the student responses shared are as follows:
“When I moved from my previous school to this school… everything changed. I changed. My new friends were no longer pushing me to do and think bad things. Because I was able to change my environment I felt motivated to do better and to change my heart. I am so glad that my parents moved to this school”
“I just decided to change. Once I did that, the rest was easy. But first I had to make the decision.”
A young man who spent some time in the Dominican Republic stated: “Going to the Dominican Republic was hard. At first I didn’t want to try to learn the language and love the people. Once my mom saw what kind of attitude I had she said, ‘you might as well try to learn the language and learn to love it here because you will be here for awhile. Who knows? You may end up loving it.’ Once I decided to change my attitude, I really started to enjoy being there and I learned to communicate with the people.”
“For the longest time I didn’t like my parents. After having someone to help me realize how much they love me, and knowing that they did – that changed everything for me. Now I totally love my mom and dad. Love was a motivating factor for my changing.”
We spent time in class talking about the effect pain has upon our bodies. To me, pain is a message that we must pay attention to. When we are in pain, that is our body telling us to wake up and make some changes. How do we know when our spirits are in need of change? (see Alma 41:10)
Ahab must’ve been a very unhappy fellow. His unhappiness could have caused him to wake up and change things. Instead, he sought material things to assuage his spiritual pain (see 1 Kings 21:1-7). We had a wonderful discussion in class relating Ahab’s tendency to our own life situation. May we recognize signs in our lives that show us we need to change, and may we be quick to observe how and when we must do so.