Prayer series
I grew up speaking a language in which the word “ordinary” was a bad word. You used it when you wanted to humiliate people, to tell them that they were less than noble, that their pedigree was tainted and their birth all too common. The word was so strong that required no other qualification. All you needed to say was, “You, ordinary one!” That was it. Punches were flying.

So I have had to pause every time I read James’ statement that Elijah was an “ordinary man.” Now, to be sure, James doesn’t exactly use the word “ordinary.” It is more like “Elijah was like unto us…” Something like that. It’s all Greek to me… The point is that Elijah had the same nature as ourselves. He was cut from the same cloth. In other words, he was… ordinary.

This prophet, who came from a little farming village, ended up in the company of kings. He never studied Meteorology but controlled the climate over an entire nation for three and a half years with just the power of his word. And yes, he also brought the son of a poor widow back from the dead. So how was this guy “ordinary”?

I had to go back and look again at the guy who wrote those words. James was a brother of Jesus. He grew up with Jesus. He heard all the things people said about Jesus. He interacted with the guys who walked around with Jesus for a little over three years. From all we know, he could have even witnessed some of the miracles performed by Jesus. Yet, he didn’t believe. Quite the contrary. He may even have participated in the plot to have Jesus committed because his family thought he was insane.

But something happened after the resurrection of Christ. James believed. From then on his life would be utterly different. He became the leader of the church in Jerusalem, wrote a famous canonical book, and ended up dying a violent death because he refused to deny that Jesus was the Messiah. James too was an “ordinary” man until he met face-to-face with the resurrected Messiah.

So could this be what James had in mind when he said that Elijah was an “ordinary” man? When he was operating in the flesh, Elijah was running scared from Jezebel, but when He was operating in the Spirit of God, he singlehandedly took on 800 false prophets and destroyed them.

The same is true of us. On our own, we can only do ordinary things. We only see the natural world. We only hear the noise of what is immediately before us. But from time to time God intervenes in our lives, and we become mighty. We can defeat armies and make the enemy flee from us. Then, like Elijah, we can hear the sound of rain even before the tiniest of clouds begins to form in the sky. We can because God gives us the gift of faith. And faith “is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).

The point is that just like James and Elijah we can go through our whole lives without ever operating in the Spirit. We don’t sense God’s leading. We don’t follow His nudging. We dare not take risks for Him. So we may end up always being on the peripheral of the center from which God’s powerful work comes. We choose safety over obedience. We bend to the sounds of familiarity. We miss the boat.

Shame on us. We must change that. First let’s recognize our humble beginning – that we are from dust, really ordinary. Then let’s ask God to rush through us a fresh outpouring of His Spirit so we can do extraordinary things for Him. Are you willing? Come this Sunday and find out about what God can do through a life that is totally surrendered to Him.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA