I recently read Charles R. Swindoll's book about Elijah and enjoyed the look at two major components of Elijah's character - heroism and humility. I've read the story of Elijah numerous times and have always thought of him as a hero and a strong man of God. This was the man who stood on Mount Carmel and called down the fire of the Lord that "consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench." He was the man who prayed, "Oh Lord my God, I pray Thee let this child's life return to him," believing that God could restore life to a child despite the fact that there was no recorded resurrections before this time! What a man of faith, a hero who stood as God's prophet against King Ahab and Jezebel, a man willing to convey the Lord's message no matter how unpopular it might be.
And, yet, he was also a man of great humility. I've never done an in depth study of the life Elijah and was overwhelmed at how humble this heroic man was, how much his life shared in common with the life of Christ (getting away alone to pray, resurrection of the dead, standing against idol worshipers), and how many lessons I learned as I took a closer look at his life.
Here are a few thoughts/lessons/quotes from the book that have caused me to pause and look at my own life and character:
*The ranks of humble heroes are getting dangerously thin. Ours is fast becoming a world of self-important people who wear their successes much too conspicuously, whose achievements, rather than left unannounced for others to discover, are so shamelessly trumpeted by the achievers themselves.
*There are four obstacles we must overcome so that God can use us and through overcoming each one we learn something.
(1) By overcoming pride, we learn submission.
(2) By overcoming fear, we learn to walk by faith.
(3) By overcoming resentment, we learn forgiveness.
(4) By overcoming habit, we learn humility.
*The most vulnerable moment is right after a great victory. Humility does not follow readily on the heels of awards and achievement.
*Feelings of indispensability and self-sufficiency can replace a wholesome dependence on the One who has blessed you beyond measure.
I know that humility is not one of my strongest character traits. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one has ever said, "Oh Melissa is such a humble servant of the Lord." However, I want to cultivate more of a humble attitude in my life, in my relationship to the Lord, in my successes, in my failures, in my relationships. I am who I am and have all that I have because the Lord has forgiven my sins and He blesses me beyond what I truly deserve or ever could have imagined. I want to strive to always give Him the glory!
Do any of these lessons resonate with you today?
A couple more comments on the book:
(1) I was intrigued that this book was dedicated to Tom Landry (coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 29 years) because the author felt that he was a "magnificent model of the things" written about - heroism and humility. I grew up watching Landry coach the Cowboys with a sense of style and class that are rarely evident in professional football now, so I will definitely be tracking down a copy of his autobiography to learn more about his life and beliefs.
(2) Elijah: A Man of Heroism and Humility
is the fourth book I have read in Swindoll's Great Lives From God's Word series, and I have learned so much from each one. (See my review of the book on Esther here.) I highly recommend this series!