I was wading through 1 Kings in my year-long Bible reading plan, unsuspecting and almost a little bit bored, when out of the sudden blue I landed on 1 Kings 17:
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.'”
And bam, just like that, we’re introduced to arguably the greatest prophet of the Old Testament.
Wait a second . . . what was Elijah doing up to that point? Where was he born? When did he become a prophet? Why did God pick him to deliver this news to wicked King Ahab? Did I miss something in the reading? Did I skip a chapter?
I double-checked my reading plan. Nope. I was right on. One minute God lists all the kings of Judah, and the very next minute Elijah enters the picture.
But isn’t that exactly how God works in our lives?
We spend months, even decades trudging through life, wondering what God’s plan for our future is, reading, studying, praying, waiting. We feel as if nothing is ever gonna change. We feel forgotten. We wonder if we’re really imagining God’s voice in our lives.
Then BAM! The very next minute we’re predicting a drought to the King of Israel.
What if Elijah had given up before 1 Kings 17? What if Elijah had decided waiting on God wasn’t really worth it? What if Elijah had gotten so discouraged to the point of turning back?
As I consider my life, I’m pretty sure nothing tests my faith like the tedious drudgery of the routine. Same old same old; nothing happening; day in, day out Christianity. And just when I start wondering whether the wait is worth it, I run across the example of Elijah.
In James 5:17 we’re told that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours.” In other words, he was prone to discouragement. He was prone to impatience. He was prone to fear and to doubt.
But James 5:17 goes on to say, “and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.”
What if instead of focusing on the inactivity of today, we learned to pray? What if instead of doubting, we grew in our faith in the unseen God, willing to be ready for our 1 Kings 17 moment?
“Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (v. 18)
Prayer isn’t learned in the crisis of the hour. No . . . Prayer is learned day by agonizingly slow and unremarkable day. Prayer is learned in the secret, in the dark, in the closet. Prayer is learned when no one is looking but God.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. The only difference was he prayed. Then one day, God used him. And boy did He ever use him.
Do you feel like your life is on hold, like you’ve been forgotten, like nothing exciting ever happens to you? Think again. Today is simply the time God is preparing you for tomorrow.
Are you doing what you can today in order to be greatly usable by God tomorrow?