If you could have a double portion of anything in the world, what would it be? Fame? Fortune? Vacation time? A new house? A carefree lifestyle? Cheesecake?
In our continuing story of the prophet Elijah and his apprentice Elisha, the moment has come when Elijah is called up to heaven in quite a dramatic way. Elisha has been dreading this moment, as we all do when a loved one is on the verge of leaving us. What was on Elisha’s mind in the moment of this reality?
2 Kings 2 (Contemporary English Version)
7 Fifty prophets followed Elijah and Elisha from Jericho, then stood at a distance and watched as the two men walked toward the river. 8 When they got there, Elijah took off his coat, then he rolled it up and struck the water with it. At once a path opened up through the river, and the two of them walked across on dry ground.
9 After they had reached the other side, Elijah said, “Elisha, the Lord will soon take me away. What can I do for you before that happens?”
Elisha answered, “Please give me twice as much of your power as you give the other prophets, so I can be the one who takes your place as their leader.”
It may seem self-centered that Elisha would request a double portion of Elijah’s prophetic power. But it reflects a healthy awareness that Elijah is indeed on the way out, and Elisha will have to put on the mantle of being the prophet for the people. Life goes on, and Elisha is hoping to be as prepared as he can while Elijah is still with him in these final moments.
10 “It won’t be easy,” Elijah answered. “It can happen only if you see me as I am being taken away.”
11 Elijah and Elisha were walking along and talking, when suddenly there appeared between them a flaming chariot pulled by fiery horses. Right away, a strong wind took Elijah up into heaven. 12 Elisha saw this and shouted, “Israel’s cavalry and chariots have taken my master away!” After Elijah had gone, Elisha tore his clothes in sorrow.
Now equipped for the task ahead, Elisha demonstrates the true measure of his condition by tearing his clothes in sorrow. But the next day he will get up and do the work of the Lord in Elijah’s name, having been made ready for the task at hand.
I have a friend who lost her husband. On the one-year anniversary of his death, she made some changes in her environment and in her heart. She still grieves, and will always grieve, but she has taken a great step forward in being ready for the work to which she is called. Her example is a beautiful reminder that even in the midst of crushing sorrow, God still has a plan and a purpose for our lives.
God has a plan and a purpose for you, too. Like Elisha, I pray that the sorrow that has caused you to rend your clothes in grief will subside, and that your sense of purpose will take over so that you can move forward with doing the work to which you are called.
And know that you are NEVER alone.