1 Kings 19:19-21 (excerpts)
So Elijah went… and found Elisha… plowing with twelve yoke of oxen…. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.
Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
How have you started your year off?
Each year, I spend time asking God what He wants of me.
Last year, I was given three objectives. Each step was really clear. This year, it's been way less obvious. Like seeing through a mist. And I've slowly realised it's because God is only wanting me to see so much so that I don't get ahead of Him. I have to take one step at a time and trust Him to take me where He has planned.
God always leads us forward. It may not be linear, but it's never backward. A bit like a puzzle. If you just put one piece in at a time, you'll eventually have a complete picture.
In reading 1 Kings 19, it impressed me that Elisha made a permanent commitment to move ahead and drew an unparalleled dividing line between his past and his future. There was no going back.
Elisha burned everything he’d been doing – in the process he provided for the people who’d been with him (blessed them), said goodbye, but then he left them and went on his way. He pursued his future with a whole heart and full intent; complete commitment to whatever lay ahead.
Elijah the prophet didn’t wait for him either. He saw him, chose him by dropping his cloak around his new protege's shoulders, then left him to follow, or not. It was a choice Elisha was meant to make on his own. (Can you see a similarity with God in your life?) Elisha followed of his own accord. He decided; dedicated himself to what was laid on his heart and around his shoulders. He’d been given a mantle to walk in, a new purpose, but it was up to him to decide how he was going to respond.
This was a brand new, unexpected moment for Elisha. He hadn’t got up that morning knowing that was going to happen to him. He’d just been plowing his field, going about his normal business, then out of nowhere Elijah appeared, threw his cloak around his shoulders – then walked away again! It was up to Elisha to determine what was going on.
Elisha needed insight and understanding. He’d apparently needed to be semi-ready for the swift change. He didn’t run after Elisha and say, “thanks for the cloak, what do I owe you?” He didn’t say, “what’s this for?” He knew. How did he know who Elijah was? How did he know what was being asked of him? The only thing he asked was, "When?"
It was a brand new, let's say, beautiful moment for him! The future was suddenly before him in a brand new way. Unknown to him. He didn’t seem to care that he didn't know what lay ahead, actually. He seemed to embrace that. Are we able to? Are we able to see something hopeful, something beautiful, something good, instead of something frightening, or what's been lost?
Elisha just knew he had to follow Elijah and he set about immediately, and deliberately, to make sure there was no provision for himself to go backward.
He trusted in something that was occurring that was clearly bigger than himself and the life he’d been leading. Had he been asking himself as he went up and down each row, “is this all there is? Is this what I was born for?” Had he been asking God for more?
He was ready enough to obey immediately. He dedicated himself fully to whatever was in his future – not his past. He made sure he couldn’t look back, burning the very tools he used for his living. Burning even what others around him had relied on. (That's intense.)
He didn’t question what was in his past to hold on to it, or bring anything with him. He set out toward whatever lay ahead because he'd been given a mantle and he was ready for it. (Do you realise his time with Elijah began and ended with that mantle - and at the end he was given a double portion of what it represented - God's power?)
I love the dedication and intent he showed - which is why, I guess, he was able to receive the double portion later on. The purpose he must have felt was full and complete and he set out not to question it. It was all or nothing.
That’s the intent and purpose God lays on us too.
Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
Jesus teaches us not to worry about each tomorrow in His sermon on the mount, too.
Matthew 6:34 (NKJV)
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Jesus doesn’t say tomorrow won’t have worries, but it’s futile to worry about them. He tells us, just live this day you’ve been given, each day, and deal with it. Why? Then we’re able to deal with it well. We’re not weighed down by “what if’s” (worrying about tomorrow) or “if only’s” (regretting yesterday).
Be concerned with the future only as far as we don’t bring our past into it. Trusting. Understand God has our tomorrow’s mapped out so we don’t need to lug baggage along with us. We plan for the future with His map in mind, and He will direct our steps. So, if we’re waiting on Him, what is there to worry about? What is there to contend with?
Be ready to receive it. You can do hard things.
God desires we follow His good paths, so He can bless us and fill us with a greater measure of Him - we were made to be filled with Him. If we're not filled with Him, we become filled with things that bring discontent.
Be prepared to burn the burdens of the past, and run after God, breathing in with excitement the beauty of every new moment that arises in our today.