The legacy of Elijah the prophet is a great example of how frail humanity and the power of God reside in one individual.
Often in our Sunday morning church service we sing Chris Tomlin’s song “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord”. The lyrics of this song are beautiful and scripture infused. The words, projected on a large screen, are on a background of brilliant blue, with an eagle soaring high overhead. An energetic worship band leads the not so energetic congregation in the repetitive refrain and we muse on a life different to the ordinary one we are living, one where God’s strength transforms us into ‘superheroes’ of faith, where we live our lives soaring high above our ‘fallen’ human nature.
Elijah led a ‘face to face’ contest between the gods’ of Baal and the God of Israel. It truly was a defining moment in the history of mankind and the Israelite people. Evidence, if needed, that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was the all powerful and living God.
Simultaneously, God invests in Elijah the petitioning grace to terminate the devastating drought affecting the region at that time.
God’s power draws the disbelieving Israelites back to faith and strikes terror in the Baal worshippers. And Elijah? Far from soaring on the wings of this almighty outpouring of Divine strength which he petitioned God for, Elijah is emotionally and physically exhausted, despairing of life itself.
“I have had enough Lord, Take my life. I am no better then my ancestors.”
Elijah’s words: 1 Kings 19, 4.
Intercessory prayer is work, as arduous and energy consuming for any human being as manual labour and Elijah worked alone, the only prophet left in Israel. It was high risk work too. Only God’s protection stood between him and the fury of Queen Jezebel. I suspect, however, that none of these issues on their own were enough to bring the hardy prophet to burnout. Rather, the terrifying and consuming power of Almighty God had brought this human being to a state of utter malfunction.
The full weight of Divine power is just too much for any human to hold.
But God is at hand nearby with a tender prescription of rest for His servant. Angels minister food, drink, and peace to Elijah’s soul and God himself appears in the comforting and somewhat more ‘ordinary’ form of a ‘still small voice’.
Grief takes Elijah on a physical and emotional journey till he reaches a place where God meets with him in person. I’m curious to read that God offers no platitudes or words of encouragement to his somewhat downhearted servant. The ‘love language’ of the Almighty God’ is in his kind actions and covering grace. God gently directs Elijah back into his role as a prophet. There are 7000 ‘God followers’ left in Israel. They need Elijah, but Elijah needs an assistant, and God provides one too in the form of Elisha.
The Divine power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that heals broken hearts and lifts the head of the weary. A power so strong get so gentle.
And yet, the power of God cannot be tamed. I want God to sit quietly in my space, to answer my prayers and to grant my wishes. But the power of God is a wild thing. And if God choses to invest His power in me then it’s surely on His terms and to do His will.
This Easter, I’m reminded that God invested so much of his Divine power in the redemption of mankind, and astonishingly he has chosen to display his power in our times through us, the Jesus followers.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1,3.