"Then Elijah said to the people, 'I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets number 450!"
(1 Kings 18:22)
We Americans love our heroes. Whether on the big screen (Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, etc.) or in real life (Firefighters, Police, US Military, etc.)... from our past (Washington, Lincoln, Jackson, etc.), or our more contemporary present (MLK Jr., Caesar Chavez, John Glenn, etc.)... in the world of sports (Babe Ruth, Lou Cherig, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Don Drysdale, etc.) or entertainment (Brando, Hanks, Stallone, Will Smith, etc.). We love heroic characters and heroic actions. We love the underdog. We love fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds.
But sometimes we think a bit more of ourselves than we should. Okay, maybe quite a bit more than sometimes. We forget that others may be in the very same place as us (for good or ill). We think it's up to us to "press ahead" and "go it alone." But we're wrong.
Elijah can relate. In 1 Kings 17-19 we get a marvelous story of drought & rain, challenge & danger, fire & water, God & Baal. Elijah was a prophet of God... who God used powerfully, indeed! But he thought he was "it." He thought he was the only one. The last of the faithful. The survivor. He thought he was THE ONLY person left that God could use. He, too, was wrong.
Even after Obadiah told him that he'd hidden 50 prophets of the LORD from danger (see 1 Kings 18:13), Elijah still told the people that he alone was the only one left who represented God (see 1 Kings 18:22). And then brought it back up to God later, when he was on the run from Queen Jezebel (see 19:14). The problem is, that's not true. God informed Elijah that there were at least 7,000 who had not bowed down to the false God, Baal. SEVEN THOUSAND! That's a far cry from the 1 that Elijah thought was left.
Many of us grew up with the understanding that hard work & determination was expected of us. That's a fine foundation, indeed. But we also need to build upon a foundation of teamwork, camaraderie, and connection. We aren't called to be "Lone Rangers." We sometimes think we're the only ones being faithful to God at times. Nope. We actually have no idea about the true faithfulness of others. So we need to stop trying to compare ourselves to others. Stop feeling sorry for whatever state of life we find ourselves in. And start trusting that God is at work in MANY MORE places & lives than we can ever imagine. Let's be humble. Let's look to collaborate and share ministry (especially among us pastors!). I think the world will be a much better place.