“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
I Kings 19:3-4
I love the way James starts his example of Elijah and his miraculous prayer life. He says, “Elijah was a man just like us.” No wonder we feel pressure to be a super saint. You know, go to church with the halo just right and “S” on our chest. But that was not the point James was trying to make. James was really saying, “There are no perfect people needed to get God’s work done!” I am sure that the image of Elijah that James had in his mind wasn’t just the praying for rain to stop and start again; not just the fire coming from heaven to consume the altar; not just the flour and oil continuing to be supplied to the widow and her son; nor was it just the image of Elijah asking God to raise the widow’s son from the dead. I am sure that James also remembered the fact that Elijah was afraid of Jezebel’s threat to kill him and ran, fleeing for his life. He knew that Elijah became exhausted and sat down under a tree and prayed that he would die. James knew that Elijah was a person just like you and I. Elijah had emotions that could lead to despair. He had depression, doubt, and fear. Like us Elijah exercised doubt and faith; fear and courage, advance and defeat. But he also saw God work through Elijah’s life and prayers. God used Elijah even with his imperfections. God can do the same for you and I. We do not have to be perfect. We do not have to pretend to be something we are not. We can be like Elijah, real with God about our deepest feelings and fears. God will meet us where we are and give us strength to live for Him. Be real with God today.
Father, thank you for the example of Elijah. What a wonderful testimony of your grace. How you took this person who could be so courageous one moment and so afraid the next, and used him for your glory. Father, use my life. I give it to you, in all its complexity and contradictions. Thank you that I do not have to be perfect, just available. Use me for your glory I pray.
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