I've been thinking about the story of Elijah. Mostly, I've been thinking about the end of Elijah's story, that like all of us, is really just the beginning to his story. Elijah is about to come face to face with his creator. God,though, won't allow Elijah to die. Instead he'll be carried to Heaven in this chariot of fire! It's an amazing story and an amazing scene. What fascinates me the most is the build up to this final scene.
Scripture says that Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah told Elisha that he was going to Bethel but that Elisha should stay put. Elisha refuses. When they arrive in Bethel Elijah announces that he is headed to Jericho, but that Elisha should stay put. Elisha refuses. When they arrive in Jericho Elijah informs Elisha that he will be headed to the Jordan, but that Elisha should stay put. Elisha refuses. Elisha is loyal and faithful and he loves Elijah! More than anything Elisha wants to stay with Elijah as long as he could.
You see Elisha knew that Elijah's time with him was short. At each stop on their journey Elisha is greeted by a group of prophets asking him the same question, "Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?" And everytime he is asked Elisha tells them to be quiet. It's almost like he is trying to push the reality of the situation out of his mind. Death is a reality that we have to deal with. Sometimes like Elisha we see it coming for someone we care about and sometimes we don't.
My friend Amy died last week. We grew up together in Sunday School and Youth Group. I remember her first as a little girl in glasses. Next my memories are filled with a high school girl who played the flute in band and drove her parent's old sky blue station wagon to school. We attended the same college together where eventually she roomed with my future wife and introduced us to each other. Amy would graduate, get married, serve in ministry as a Children's Pastor, serve on the mission field and become the mom to five kids. One night she went to sleep and didn't wake up. There was no final trip, no announcements to those who cared about her. There was no time to prepare. Her funeral was inspiring and I think an encouragement to her family.
All of this has left me weepy. I tear up as memories come to me, when I see some commercial or when I sit too long with my thoughts. It has left me, like so many others, wondering what are we supposed to do next?
Elisha was no different. When Elijah was carried into the clouds by his chariot Elisha was left only with his cloak that fell from the chariot. Elisha picked it up and carried it to the Jordan crying out, Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" And as he screamed at God he struck the water with Elijah's cloak and the water parted. There He was. And there He is. In the very place that we need Him, God is. What are we to do when we don't know what to do? We pick up the cloak. We get busy serving Him. We get busy loving others. We get busy sharing His love.