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Thursday, June 23, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Kings 2:1–2, 6–14
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.
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, and 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.
He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water. He said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? Where is he?” He struck the water again, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha crossed over. (NRSV)
The story of Elisha and Elijah is a dramatic account of mentorship and a transmission of wisdom and power from mentor to mentee. What can we learn from their relationship to inform our own spiritual development and journey?
They were both committed to each other and to God. Elijah called Elisha to be his disciple, and Elisha immediately responded. He was so certain of this calling and the change it would bring to his life that he killed and barbecued the oxen he was plowing with, using the wooden plow for fuel. No ambivalence there! After Elijah had mentored Elisha for about seven years, it became evident to Elisha and other prophets that Elijah’s days on this earth were numbered. They all encouraged Elisha to step back from his connection to Elijah, which he adamantly refused to do, stating, “as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” No waffling there! Elijah then asks Elisha if he wanted something from him, and Elisha asks for a double measure of his power. No thinking small there! Elijah acknowledges what a big ask that is but said that if Elisha is with him at the end he will receive it, and that is what happened. Elisha witnessed Elijah getting swept up in a windstorm and carried off in a flaming chariot, and Elisha was left with Elijah’s powerful mantel. Elisha went on to perform double the miracles that his mentor Elijah had done.
What can we take away from this story for our twenty-first century lives? I find myself asking these questions:
Who is my teacher and what is a cause that can give me a vision towards my life’s purpose?
How can I best strengthen my connection to God so I may be a healing influence to others?
Am I willing to be open to receiving wisdom, fully committed, and believe I can double my impact?
Loving God, give me Elisha’s drive, certainty, and conviction to be a transformative change agent in this world. I ask you to double my effectiveness to be a healing presence to all I encounter. I ask this in the name of Jesus, my rock and strength and connection to you. Amen.
Written by Tom Schemper, Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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