When we watch movies, there is often a strong hero—a brave warrior who is triumphant in all circumstances. A character of supreme skill. We also read stories like this in the Bible.
Can you relate to these guys? Ever feel like taking on an impossible task against overwhelming odds, and have the confidence to know you’ll come out unscathed? No?
You may not feel like a hero, but let me show you something amazing…a story that just might change your perspective.
The story of Elijah in the Bible begins with Elijah walking into a powerful king’s chamber—unannounced—and declaring that there would be no rain in the land until that king turned away from worshiping false gods. (Interesting side note: The god that the king and his lady were worshiping was Baal. Baal was supposed to be the god of the sky—the god of storms and rain.)
So Elijah goes and sticks his nose in the king’s space and is like, “Hey! You’re worshiping the wrong god, and you need to change.” Pretty gutsy, right? Kind of heroic.
Elijah disappears for three years, then just shows up one day and calls all of King Ahab’s prophets together for a spiritual dual. The challenge: Fire will be sent from the true God to burn up the sacrifice on the altar of the people who are worshiping correctly.
The prophets of Baal take the challenge, build an altar, then proceed to dance and sing and cry out for their god to send fire. But as Elijah expected, nothing happens. “And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened,’” 1 Kings 18:27.
I can imagine Elijah laughing at them. What a scene!
Then Elijah builds an altar, puts wood on it, and then places the sacrifice. In this rain-parched land he gets some people to dump 12 large containers of precious water on the sacrifice, soaking it. Then he calls out to God.
“Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”
“Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!,’” 1 Kings 18:37-39.
This was a huge victory. The other guy—Baal, the sky god—has done nothing. But the God of heaven shows up in a huge way.
After this, Elijah takes the opportunity to kill all of the false prophets. This is where it seems like Elijah is the big hero, the warrior for God. But in the very next part of the story, in says this, “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time,’” 1 Kings 19:1–2.
No big deal, right? Elijah had done so much in faith, he was a spiritual champion, a great hero, a mighty warrior for God. But instead, the man who just called fire from heaven in God’s name caves under the pressure.
“And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!,’” 1 Kings 19:3–4.
He cowers. He cannot take anymore, he is ready to die.
This doesn’t sound like a hero anymore. It sounds like a normal person. But then if you keep reading you see that God gives him strength. Even with all the successes that Elijah had, he was still human, and still had to rely completely on God.
We, too, are human. You and I are human. But God can and will do amazing things through us. Elijah learned to trust God one more time. God revealed himself more to Elijah, and not only was his faith stretched, but when he was broken down and ruined, it was God who he became dependent upon.
Let God ruin you. Let him take you to the limit…for Him. And when you find that you cannot do it on your own—when you are broken and can’t do any more—that is when a truly amazing God comes in and changes everything. That is when your relationship with Him gets so strong it can never be broken. And you become a hero—a warrior—for Him.