Feb. 17 - Into the Future
I spend a lot of time waiting for God to tell me what He wants me to do. I imagine I’ll be sitting on my couch when I hear a booming voice say, “Sell all your stuff and go help orphans in Botswana. The plane tickets are on the table and I’ll have a house waiting for you when you get there.” To which I’ll reply, “You got it, God!” and I’ll then quit my job and start selling my furniture on Craigslist. I hold out hope for this obvious, no-doubt-about-it voice of God telling me what my simple next steps will be. Clearly I really needed this week’s reminder from the life of Elijah.
1 Kings 19:11-13 Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Elijah was running for his life. He traveled through wilderness to reach a cave on top of a mountain to hear the voice of God. When God spoke to him, it wasn’t in the wind, earthquake or fire, but in the gentle whisper afterwards. His message to Elijah wasn’t, “Great job, buddy. You deserve a rest.” Instead he told Elijah to retrace his steps back down the mountain and through the desert to find Elisha and anoint him to succeed Elijah as prophet. And Elijah went.
1 Kings 19:19-21 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. 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 goodbye,” 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.
What really sticks with me from both of these stories is the obedience of both men. As Greg pointed out on Sunday, they had a choice. Elijah could have stayed in the cave where he was safe and Elisha could have kept on plowing and remained with his family. But when God called them forward, they changed the plans they had for themselves to align with the plans God had for them. The Lord is never calling us to the past, but into the future.
It’s important for us to develop a close relationship with God and spend time in quiet prayer, listening for His call. Studying His word and growing to know Him intimately will help us to discern His still small voice from the silence after the earthquake. We must never hold so tightly to our earthly comforts that we aren’t able to drop it all to follow where God leads us.