Elijah was a very rare individual, but he wasn’t unique. His type of faith is repeated several times in the bible — most clearly in John the Baptist. While most people waver between opinions, Elijah represents the voice in any real world situation that is willing to have their position tested. In the workplace there are those who hope that the boss doesn’t take a sample of their work, and there are those who invite criticism because they know that they have made the right choice. In the political world, there are the many who hide what they are doing and the few that are willing to act with transparency.
History sends Elijah type people into every generation. They call us to truth. They call us to honesty. They call us to act out of our convictions. The generation before ours had Dorothea Dix, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dag Hammarskjöld (and that’s just working with the d’s). What about our generation? I think of the way Al Gore has challenged us to get off the fence in terms of climate change. Who else? What ever name you say will be controversial. Elijah was controversial.
Perhaps, that is the point of the story. We get hung up on the power of Elijah’s prayers and the way the water turned into gasoline. Don’t miss the fact that when everyone else was on the fence, Elijah was putting all his eggs in one basket. How did he get to be so certain? I think it came from the years he spent in the wilderness. He kept seeking for God and choosing God’s wisdom over his own comfort. He prayed, ‘thy will be done,’ until he was certain about God’s will.
What keeps us from being that way? It is important that we don’t view our heroes, or Elijah, as if they are super-natural creatures. If we take a blood sample we won’t find midi-chlorian, like they found in Luke Skywalker. Heroes are people who desire to be certain and choose to put up with the discomfort that brings.