Oops! That Didn’t Go Well!

ash blaze bonfire burn
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Remember the story of Elijah calling down the fire from heaven?  You can find the complete story in 1 Kings 18-20.

Israel was in the middle of a drought and King Ahab was upset. Where was that prophet Elijah? Ahab was sure he was the one causing the problem. When Elijah heard King Ahab was looking for him, he went to him. Elijah knew God was on his side, so he was not afraid.

Elijah challenged the king. “We will go up the mountain and build two altars. First you will build an altar to Baal and sacrifice a bull. You will then call down fire from heaven to burn up your bull.”

The prophets of Baal did as Elijah said, but of course, no fire came from heaven.

Elijah then rebuilt the altar to the Lord (which had been torn down). He put the bull on top of it, and then dug a ditch around it and covered the sacrifice with so much water, the wood was soaked and the ditch was full.

When Elijah called down fire from heaven – the fire came and burned up the sacrifice, the altar AND the water. The people, seeing this, cried “The Lord, He is God!”

That’s NOT my oops. My oops happened at summer camp where the boy counselors and the girl counselors often traded off doing skits, role plays, etc. to open the chapel lessons.

Elijah was the next story coming up and it was the boy counselors’ turn to open with a skit … and that’s when they got the idea to do this up BIG. All afternoon they worked on the setup on the a secluded part of the lake shore. (They didn’t want the kids to see.) They created and planned and engineered how one counselor would be in the tree with a huge bundle of rags. The tree would be considered “heaven” and when the kids called for the fire to come from Baal, nothing would happen, but when the kids called for God to send fire, the bundle of rags would be lit on fire and would slide down a metal chain into the lake – so all would be safe.

Well … except for one thing. The fire came down unexpectedly when it was the prophet of Baal’s turn …

Yep. Just like that, the ball of fiery rags slid down the chain just as it was supposed to do, but at the very worse moment – confusing a lot of campers!


I felt bad for the guys. They had worked so hard and truly had come up with an ingenious way to illustrate the lesson. But like what happens many times, things went wrong. Whether it’s a balloon that doesn’t pop during an object lesson, a computer that doesn’t work during a digital presentation, or a huge prop falling over in the middle of a drama – things go wrong.

Here’s some things to remember …

1.  Don’t panic. If you can, fix the situation and keep going.

2. Have a backup. If possible – especially when it comes to computer presentations – have a backup (or a computer guru) handy. No matter how many times something is practiced beforehand, technology has a way of not working when you want it to.

3. Explain what was supposed to happen. If you need to stop the skit, object lesson, etc. explain what would’ve taken place had not the scene fallen apart.

4. Remember that your mistake could be memorable. I remember the misplaced fire, but I do not remember any of the other lesson introductions we did – not even the ones we girl counselors planned.

5. AND BEST OF ALL — Use it as an additional object lesson. ‘Yes, what we did tonight did not work the way we planned it to work, but do you know ALL God’s plans work exactly right? Humans make mistakes. God doesn’t make mistakes. When the prophets of Baal called the fire from heaven, it did not happen. When Elijah called down the fire – it did happen because God was behind it.”

Oops! Sometimes things do not work right even when we have great intentions, but God’s plans always work.

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