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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, February 5, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Kings 2:1–12

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. (NRSV)

Reflection
I always used to get Elijah and Elisha confused. I bet everyone they met did, too. “Now wait, are you Elijah or Elisha?” “I’d like you to meet the prophet Elijah . . . oh, you’re Elisha? Sorry.” “Paging the prophet Elisha, sorry, Elijah.”

They knew, though. Elijah and Elisha, they knew who was the leader and who was the follower. In this story, three times Elijah says to Elisha, “You wait here. I’m going further.” Each time, Elisha replies, “Nope, I’m going with you.” He’s steadfast. “I’m walking with you.” People say to him, “You know, God’s going to take Elijah away from you,” and Elisha says, “Yeah, I know, shut up.” And he keeps walking.

When Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, Elijah says, “Man, that’s a tough ask.” But he tells Elisha if he goes the distance, if Elisha goes with him to the end, he’ll have it. I think he can say that because he knows that it will take that spirit to follow him to the end, and if he’s there at the end, well, that means he’ll have it.

All along the route his boss was telling him “It’s OK, knock off, I’ll finish this.” For most of us, that’s a signal to clock out. I mean, if it’s just a job, there’s a time you go to work and a time you knock off for the day. That’s just the healthy thing to do: knock off, recharge, come back and hit it again tomorrow. But that’s just it—it wasn’t Elijah or Elisha’s job. It was their calling. And a calling? That’s a different thing altogether.

God knows that following Christ is a tough road. Even the disciples couldn’t follow him to the end, after all. He knows that all we can do is all we can do, and he loves us anyway. But if we can say, “I’m going with you” just one more time, then there’s an extra dose of spirit to be found.

Prayer
One more step, one more mile, one more day, Lord. As far as we can go. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts


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