When I used to read about Elijah having an human nature just like mine I found that hard to compute. After all this prophetic giant of the Old Testament carries with him some amazing accounts of supernatural activity and God connectivity. At his word the rains ceased and at his word the rains returned. Talk about a powerful intercessory ministry that makes mine seem feeble in comparison. His presence in a widow’s home during the days of drought caused her last meal to go on and on and on, and when her son died Elijah prayed and saw him raised back to life. This is one awesome man of God. He challenged false prophets to a dual, built a water soaked altar of the Lord and called down fire from heaven. This is no ordinary Joe we are talking about here. How on earth can I read those words in the book of James and feel any affinity with this man? The walk he is on seems all too often totally out of reach. How did James think that would encourage me to keep on praying when it is easy to feel spiritually insignificant next to characters like this? If that was where the story of Elijah finished as a man of victory, super prophet, conqueror of all evil, then I would never find anything in him that suggests a same nature as me. But what I love about the Old Testament is that it is no cover up of people’s failures. We get the warts and all accounts of characters like David, Abraham, Moses etc., and of course Elijah. We discover as the story unfolds that he is truly one pissed off prophet.
The change in the demeanour of the prophet is incredible. We witness a man of complete confidence in himself and God crumble before our very eyes. In a way it is not pleasant reading, it is too real and near the bone. What causes this drastic change? One message from one woman. The man who looked into the eyeballs of the prophets of Baal slashing their wrists, screaming banshees that they were, was now going to be turned into a quivering wreck with a message carried by a messenger from Queen Jezebel. Those words ripped deep into his core like a knife twisting. His whole heart for living was ripped out. Intimidation can be a real bitch. I know I have felt it even as words from one person take all the wind out of your sales. Elijah could only think of doing one thing…run. And not just run, hide, with a desire to die. Depression and suicidal thoughts washed over him. As he cried out to God, ‘take my life,’ he was the shadow of the man we heard about since Sunday school days. No one ever wrote a song about this part of his life, and yet I think it is only now where we begin to relate. Phew, Elijah is only human after all. Even angelic appearances with heavenly food do not impress him. They want to strengthen him to send him on a journey, he only finds strength to run to a cave. Then the voice of God comes to him, ‘what are you doing here?’ Talk about losing perspective. I find that easy when the dark clouds loom, you cannot see the wood for the trees. ‘I’ve worked hard, nobody listens, I’m on my own, they want to kill me, moan, moan, moan.’ In reality he knew he wasn’t on his own because a character called Obadiah told him earlier that he had hidden others just like him, other prophets in the nation. But when the intimidation and depression kick in truth gets kicked into touch. He really was suffering from intimidation blues. It stinks, I know, I’ve been there too.
A Stubborn Prophet Pursued by a Stubborn God.
Have you ever noticed how stubborn Elijah was? God asked Elijah to go stand on the mountain. Does he do as he is told? Nope. Now time for a few heavenly signs on the earth, something dynamic to grab his attention; hurricane winds, earthquakes shaking the rocks, fire, Elijah knew all about the fire. Does this get him shifting off of his butt? Nope. Then something happens, something small but significant. Something that finally gets the stubborn prophet to move. A whisper. The stubborn God, who never lets us go, was quietly and gently whispering. Now Elijah moves out of the cave to the mouth, looking into the open air again. God again asks him what he is doing here, and the perspective has not changed, he still sees the darkness, but something has triggered. he can finally put one step in front of the other, not enthusiastically, but at least he is open to the whisper. God downloads the strategy of heaven to walking in victory over Jezebel. Anoint Hazael, anoint Jehu, anoint Elisha, in that order because there is a heavenly plan. Does Elijah walk in obedience? Nope. But he does at least walk. That is all some of us have been able to do. if that is the case I want to encourage you, sometimes the walk is enough to God. We get all this junk about blowing it, laying down ministry, not walking in obedience, not walking in the best for our lives only the good. For some of us good is the best we may be able to muster. To God at this phase of our lives it will be enough. Just to shake us out of the place of death. Elijah walks and finds Elisha. We get all this romantic stuff about laying the mantle on him and then mentoring him, in reality Elijah just wants to give up everything. He wants to resign his calling and give away the responsibility and get on with his own life. So, so stubborn. He just chucks his cloak at Elisha and just wants to walk away. But Elisha has a bit of God’s stubbornness about him, he will not let Elijah walk off alone and walk out of the story. He hounds him and gives him no choice. Elijah now reluctantly has to invest his next days into the life of this young apprentice. A reluctant place for Elijah but God just rejigs His plans a bit because He can and Elijah finds himself stumbling into the next chapter of the story. Still with something to give, still with something to say, still able to walk in miracles. Still a man just like us. The story is now one I relate to. Stubborn, yep. Emotionally unstable at times, yep. Wanting to thrown it all away, yep. Wanting to withdraw from the picture, yep. But I thank God today that he is even more stubborn than I am. He is stubborn with love and desire for me. Now that I can totally relate to.