Yesterday I was preparing for children’s church. I always open the materials a bit gingerly in case it’s a.) Letivical cleansing with the under 2’s or b.) requires 700 toilet rolls and a working model of the ark. This week however, I hit gold. It was 1 Kings and the bit where Elijah has a show-down with the prophets of Baal, followed by a meltdown when his blood sugar drops.
I have a lot of time for Elijah. I like that he’s grumpy and I like that he’s hairy. I like that he has a bit of witty banter with the Baal folks (‘is your God having a nap or what?) and I like that God uses him to do some incredible stuff. He’s a man so famous, that long after his death, his successor Elisha (who also has less hair), is still known as ‘Elisha . . . who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah” (2 Kings 3:11). No wonder he lost it in the er – bear episode.
I also like that Elijah’s got a proper bad-ass adversary: Ahab, ( part ofthebadkingbadkingbadkingbadkingholdonthisone’sgoodoopsnohe’sbadtoo dynasty but like, the most evilliest of the lot) AND married to Jezebel (who wears too much eyeliner and too few clothes and threatens everyone until dogs get her and drink her blood – ah-maz-ing). Read it all here (or er-in your bible. 1 Kings 17-19 and 21 (for the Jezebel bit). 20’s good too.
My point is this: what I like most about Elijah isn’t the fire and brimstone. It’s not the Baal banter or the miracles or the long-distance running. I like that he gets moody. That even though God is completely faithful to Him, he finds it hard to trust. I like that sometimes he’s like an overtired toddler who needs some food and a nap. And most of all, I love the God who cares for him – even when he doubts. The God who loves him when he’s having a hissy fit and who loves him when he’s depressed. I love the God of the storm who gives him enormous, spectacular victories. And I love the God who whispers over him as he sleeps. I love the God who loves. And I think – God loves us this way too. Even when we’re angry and doubting or tired and despairing. Even when we feel like giving up. He loves us, He loves us, He loves us.