Change is in the air. As Elijah’s long ministry draws to a close, he offers us some good guidance.
Knowing his time is short, what does he do? Puzzlingly, he tells his heir apparent, Elisha, to stay put in Gilgal for the Lord has called Elijah to go to Bethel. Elisha wants no part of such a separation. Forget it—“As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
So Elisha goes with Elijah across the Jordan. Elijah says to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elijah cares what happens to the Lord’s prophetic ministry that he will soon leave behind. He wants to make sure that the good work will continue, even abound.
What does Elisha ask for? That double portion. He is not asking for a spirit greater than Elijah’s, but for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit—like what a firstborn son would inherit from his father. And as Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind chariot, his cloak descends on Elisha, anointing him for the Lord’s service. God’s work will thrive!
Chances are that today will not be our last. So, what can Elijah show us? During times of transition and change, think about others’ needs, the effect of change on their lives, and the loose ends tossed into their laps. Elijah is sensitive to Elisha’s feelings; he allows him to go with him to Bethel. For us, we can imagine being in someone else’s shoes and can let them share whatever is on their hearts and minds.
As life changes, let’s think about others and their needs, praying for God’s double portion on their work. Invest in others for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Lord, thank you for caring for us through all of life’s changes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This week’s readings open with the dramatic scene of Elijah’s departure. As the prophet is taken into heaven by fiery chariots, his cloak falls to his successor, Elisha—symbolic of the continuation of God’s prophetic work. The psalmist praises the Lord for being the source of all good. The Lord gives guidance, protection, security, and joy. Paul reminds us that freedom in Christ comes with responsibility. We cannot live to satisfy our fleshly desires. If we live in the power of the Spirit, then our manner of life should stand out and bear godly fruit. In the Gospel reading, Jesus challenges his followers with the cost of discipleship. His statements here may seem extreme, but he is pointing out that we can be tempted to find excuses for not proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Read 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14. When has fire—real or metaphorical—changed your life? How have you seen God working in this change?
Read Psalm 16. Recall a time when you needed God’s protection. How did you keep God in front of you?
Read Galatians 5:1, 13-25. Along with our freedom, we are given a responsibility. How do you use your freedom to serve others?
Read Luke 9:51-62. When have you heard Jesus’ call to follow? What have you had to leave behind to follow the one who has “set his face to go to Jerusalem”?
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