The pale green orb-weaving spider dangled from the ancient juniper in my front yard. The sun had kissed us goodnight; the moon now lit the earth with a soft glow. The spider was nearing completion of his massive web that stretched from two juniper branches to the shed ten or twelve feet away. Clearly, I kept my distance, but watching his tenacity inspired me.
I had struck this web down the past two evenings, only to find it reconstructed late at night when I took Blue out a final time before bed. The giant web twinkled like stardust in the moonlight, its host resting in the center waiting for an unsuspecting insect. I have learned that by morning this spider will consume its web completely, hide in the tree or a corner of the shed, and then rebuild the same intricate masterpiece again at nightfall.
Maybe even some chutzpah.
Elijah was a man known for his tenacity, especially in matters of faith and prayer. There is even evidence of a little chutzpah.
Donning his prophet mantle, Elijah traveled the land of Canaan from the Brook Cherith to Zarephath where he performed the miracle that sustained the widow and her son. From there the Lord sent him to confront Ahab in the area of Samaria where a drought and severe famine had consumed the land.
This was the drought Elijah had prayed for.
Elijah had prayed earnestly that it would not rain so the people who were worshiping Baal would know that it was the Lord their God who controlled the rain, not Baal. For three years and six months there had been no rain.
Now the Lord was ready to get the attention of His people, and especially King Ahab and Jezebel. God sent His man of faith to challenge the prophets of Baal to a contest — a showdown — to prove His superiority over Baal. Elijah defeated 450 prophets of Baal who, after six hours of wailing and cutting themselves could not get Baal to accept their burnt sacrifice. Elijah, on the other hand had the ear of his Lord.
That showdown took tenacity — a steadfastness in Elijah’s faith.
And then we see his humility.
Elijah spoke to Ahab and told him to go eat and drink, for “there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
But there wasn’t. Not yet.
No worries. Elijah believed.
He walked up to the top of Mt. Carmel, “then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ So he went up and looked, and said, ‘There is nothing.’ And seven times he [Elijah] said, ‘Go again.'”
Although Elijah knew God had promised the rain, he prayed for the fulfillment. In humbleness he bowed before the Lord, focusing all of his attention on his God — blotting out distractions, ignoring his exhaustion from the day’s battle — and prayed. Seven times. With persistence. With tenacity. Elijah believed his prayer was answered before the answer actually came because the Lord had spoken into his spirit, “there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
Elijah stood on God’s promise.
Did you realize Elijah is just like us? In spite of his greatness and the miracles that followed his walk with God, he was still subject to the same feelings and weaknesses as us. In fact, right after this remarkable miracle of defeating 450 of Baal’s prophets and then praying for rain to end a three year drought, this mighty man of faith ran for his life because Jezebel threatened to kill him! In fact, he ran into the wilderness for a day and collapsed beneath a juniper tree and told the Lord “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life!”
He was so much like us.
May we all run our race with such tenacity and a little chutzpah thrown in … just for fun.