James 5:17-18 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.
The story of Elijah is justly famous, but the line in this passage that we hang up on is, “Elijah was a man just like us.” We tend to think of Bible characters as being in a special dimension of spirituality, overlooking the fact that the Bible presents them faults and all. Elijah had suicidal depression, for example. (1 Kings 19:3-4) When we fail to recognize that God uses even deeply flawed human beings for His purposes, we will fail to believe He wants to and will use us. Likewise we write other people off, thinking God could never use them. No one benefits from such thinking. A prominent example at the moment is the new President of the US. There is no question that he is a deeply flawed individual, but any thought that God could not use him is actually ignoring and/or belittling God. God can use him, and God can use our prayers for him, and for others as well. Any time we focus on people to the exclusion of God, we are making a huge mistake. God is not limited by human weakness, nor does He depend on human strength. We have such trouble getting that through our heads! God wants to use us, and the the sooner and better we grasp that, the more we will experience the joy and satisfaction of seeing it happen.
This issue has actually been a major element of my ministry, as I have tried to help people grasp that God is big enough and powerful enough to use even them. Many years ago now I participated in a round-table discussion with a Japanese Christian newspaper. At that point I expressed something that I was already feeling and that has never left me: when the believers of Japan wake up to who they are in Christ, they will change not only the Church but the nation, and not only Japan but the world. I am convinced that the reason the devil holds onto this nation so tenaciously is that he knows that to be true, and he is desperate not to let that happen. So far I haven’t been so successful in getting the message across even to my own congregation! Right now we are facing the challenge of buying the land next door and building an assisted living facility, with the immediate hurdle being legal zoning requirements. We need to believe that indeed, nothing is impossible for God, or for us when we are obedient to Him, (Luke 1:37, Matthew 17:20) and that He will use our prayers and our obedience to bring His plans to fruition. We are not to ignore obstacles, but rather present each one to God in prayer and faith, just as Elijah did.
Father, thank You for all that You are doing. It was a huge boost to my faith when the architect came by yesterday and, with a few questions based on his abundant experience, really solidified the vision in my heart and mind. I’ve been missing the forest for the trees! Help me cast that vision accurately, not just to the believers here but to the neighbors and to the bureaucrats with whom we have to deal. May this be an effective step in opening the believers’ eyes to all that You want to do through them, so that we may be fully effective as Your agents however You want to use us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!