I remember moving across the country during a difficult time in my life. As I packed up the kitchen, I—how to say it—accidentally broke a plate or two. (wink, nudge.) It felt good. Why?
I remember a couple, both in their eighties and married for decades. The husband had Parkinson’s, and now he couldn’t speak or move. However, they’d never spoken about his end-of-life desires or the funeral or much of anything related to the illness. Why?
One reason: Even the best transitions create stress and challenging situations. Transition equals stress, and that’s hard because life is always in motion, always transitioning from one situation to the next.
Here in Second Kings we note a transition, a passing of the torch from Elijah to Elisha, from one generation to the next. Time and again Elijah tells his understudy to leave him, and Elisha refuses. So they walk together and cross the River Jordan. Everyone—Elijah, Elisha, the company of prophets, God—acknowledges the importance of this transition point. I’m pretty sure Elisha feels tense.
Like our world, the world of Kings was a brutal place. Elijah served as God’s mouthpiece in it by speaking truth to power. Now he is leaving; will the world swallow up the witness? Will Elisha be able to carry the holy things into a new day?
Yes, because God remains engaged and faithful not just for the days of Elijah but for the days of Elisha as well. Yes, because Matthew reminds us that the risen Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28:20). Yes, because we are God’s.
Give me eyes, Lord, to see the transitions of life—be they happy or sad—as opportunities to be honest before you about both my hopes and my fears. Amen.