“Then the LORD said to him [Elijah], “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.” (I Kings 19:15 – 16)
I still remember the preparations I had to make when I was getting ready to leave my job in Indiana; our family was moving west to Oregon. There was only a few weeks to hire someone and train them to take over for me. In may job there was really no “down” or “fallow” season. I tried to do as much advance work as I could, and I tried to write as much stuff down as I could in a training manual. My fear was that I would forget to train the new person on some aspect of my job. Of course eventually I just had to leave the job and hope that things worked out for the new person and the staff I left behind.
“So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him.” (Verse 19)
The job I had before the one I left for moving to Eugene was a different experience in training the person. The person who was my assistant was moving into my spot. That was a much more comfortable and easy transition. As my “second in command” she knew the job as well as I did. And I was glad she would have the experience of making the job her own.
“He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” (Verse 20)
If you remember, there was a story from Jesus’ ministry where a young man was called to follow Jesus but wanted to wait until his parent had passed on before he left them. Jesus was pretty direct in what he thought of that. “Let the dead bury their own” he said. You are not to take this as meaning that Jesus was forbidding him to attend to urgent family business. Jesus knew the young man’s heart and knew that I did not want to leave the comfort and familiarity of his home to go wandering about. But here Elisha is asking to take proper leave of his family so they would know what happened and where he was going. After all, the Lord was telling Elijah to make preparations for his leave taking. Why would he not allow Elisha to say his farewell. Plus Elijah asks the leading question “what do you think my action meant for you?”
“He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.” (Verse 21)
Elisha answered that question by making his own final arrangements, and then going with Elijah. When I found out that my husband had a job offer on the west coast, it took me aback. I realized instantly that it would drastically change the plans I thought I should set in motion. I knew I could look upon this as a call to something new and exciting in my life. Or, I could see it as tearing up my present life (at the time) and mourning that loss. I chose to look forward. That move had so many unforeseen consequences. And the reasons that it was the correct thing has become more and more clear as time has gone on. The Divine was “calling me out” and calling me away from the life I had there . . . . . to something more real and abundant. Yes, there have been losses and change. As our life out here unrolled I could see where Eugene, OR was the place we needed to be.
The funny thing is, beloved reader, I really don’t like change much! I am, in many ways, a “creature of habit”. But at the same time, I like change and growth. So times you need to make changes in order to move forward in life. The other Old Testament passage tells the story of Elijah being taken up, and Elisha fully inheriting his “mantle”; actually, he gains a double share of what Elijah had. How is that for a change!
What I needed to remember and what I pass on to you, beloved reader, is that no matter what change comes about – the Lord God the Divine is still with us, and we with the Divine. And that will never change! Selah!