Voices From the Past

4 But he [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” -1 Kings 19:4

Elijah was the spiritual leader of an entire nation. God validated Elijah’s ministry with miracles. Through the power of God, Elijah was the human instrument through which God brought a drought, then rain. He raised a child from the dead. He brought fire from heaven to prove Who Israel’s God really was. God used Elijah to do many other amazing things as well. God had miraculously fed Elijah during the drought that Elijah himself had prayed for. Elijah knew God had worked through him.

Yet, here we see Elijah in a familiar human posture. “I don’t want to go on. I can’t go on. I’m done.” Then comes the line that we can all relate with, “I’m no better than my fathers.” Apparently, there is nothing that Elijah could experience that could give him a sense of identity or worth that would transcend his past. Like most humans, Elijah’s entire sense of worth was defined, and somehow crippled, by his identification with voices from his childhood.

I find it incredible that these stories from thousands of years ago are able to capture what we struggle with. They are able to show us, “Yep! That thing you’re doing is a normal human thing!” Elijah, a stained-glass-window Bible hero, looks at you when you think, “I’m a failure, just like Dad said.”. He says, “I see you! I once thought I wasn’t in the game because of my family of origin.”

This story tells us, no matter what we do we will probably at times be limited by our false beliefs about ourselves that were shaped by voices of the past. This was a lie that even limited the aspirations of a great prophet!

Soon after in the story, God sends an angel to Elijah who says, essentially, “Eat and rest. You’re not done!” God doesn’t respond with guilt. He doesn’t pat Elijah on the head and say, “Poor thing!” He just says, “Take care of yourself and strengthen up. There’s more to your story. God’s not done with you.”

So… use this scripture! Let it speak to you. Find yourself in the story. If you are prone to feeling bad about yourself because of your family of origin, you’re in good company. If you were a nobody in school and feel like that limits your worth, that’s a normal human thing to feel. Think about your life… is this something you do but never realized it? Where are you limited by beliefs about yourself that were shaped by your past?

The Bible calls you forward! God is not done! Your journey is not over! God is never limited by anything you’ve done in your past or anything that was done to you by others. Neither are you!

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