Dewey Williams and the Hesitating Squirrel
“How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” – 1 Kings 18:21
In 2010, the Lord laid it upon my heart to preach a series of sermons to my congregation in Tennessee on the subject of “Great Questions of the Bible.” (It is a sermon study I later preached to our Seventh Street congregation). But during the initial study with my Grace Baptist Church family (as with Seventh Street) we considered various questions such as, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, “What must I do to be saved?”, “Why do the wicked prosper?”, “What is man that you take thought of Him?”, “Where can I go from Your Spirit?”, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?”, and many others. One of the questions we considered came from our passage above. Elijah speaks directly to the people of God on Mount Carmel and asks them, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” His question is considered one of the greatest invitations in the Bible.
But what really led Elijah to pose such a confronting question? The people of God had flirtatiously dabbled with pagan idolatry, having turned a listening ear to the false prophets of Baal. Yet at the same time, they wanted to keep the benefits and privileges that came with being God’s people. They wanted it both ways. They claimed allegiance to God with their lips, while committing spiritual adultery by fanning the flames of strange fire in their hearts. And so Elijah made it very clear to them that they could not have it both ways. His words of confrontation were similar to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:24 when our Lord said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” The people of God in Elijah’s time were very hesitant, postponing any expression of decision or commitment; for they did not answer him a word. Yet Elijah’s challenge was very clear; it was time to decide. Were the people of God going to forsake their recreational idolatrous habits by being fully committed to the Lord, or were they going to continue to straddle the fence? Not to decide was to decide.
As I preached the sermon, I wanted to illustrate Elijah’s question. So I asked our congregation to imagine a hesitating squirrel in the middle of a road. I am sure you know what I am describing; for we have all seen the hesitating squirrel. He sees the oncoming vehicle while feeling the vibrations upon the surface of the road. Panic stricken, he is unsure on which way to turn. Does he go back the way he came from, or does he make a dash to the other the side? Many times, the squirrel’s hesitancy is magnified all the more by a display of fancy footwork in going back and forth. Unfortunately, his inability to decide can lead to a deadly outcome.
Present in the congregation that morning was an elderly man by the name of Dewey Williams. He had been visiting our church for a little over a month. While hearing the sermon, he was personally confronted with our question for the day, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions?” In that moment, he realized that he had been a lot like that squirrel. For eighty-one years he had hesitated and delayed in making a decision for Jesus Christ. But that morning, God opened his eyes to the gospel, and Mr. Dewey saw his need to trust and receive Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
Dewey has now gone home to be with the Lord. To be sure, Dewey picked up the baton of the Christian faith late in life being converted at age eighty-one. But one thing is for sure; he finished strong. Every time I go down the road and see a hesitating squirrel, I smile and think of a man named Dewey Williams. I pray that you do the same.
– Pastor Eric