Thursday, September 5, 2013

Taking The Mantle

My Bible reading this morning was in 2 Kings and as I read chapter 2, my mind went back to Leigh Fisher, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for Operation Christmas Child, who focused our Area Coordinators' Retreat last January on this passage.  It's the story of Elisha's succession to Elijah's ministry.

Knowing God is going to take him to heaven soon, Elijah tries three times to leave Elisha behind, but Elisha is having none of that and refuses to leave Elijah.  He's just not ready to give up his mentor.

Elijah then takes his 'mantle'--his ordinary but most necessary cloak--and uses it to strike and divide the water and give Elisha one more exhibit of God's power.

Then easing Elisha into the inevitable, Elijah asks him what he can do for him before he goes to heaven.  And Elisha wisely and boldly asks for a double portion of his spirit.  What a gutsy request.  And Elijah promises he will get what he asks if he sees Elijah leave.  Elisha will have to let go of the man who is most precious to him to take hold of his destiny.

"As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them.  And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven."  vs. 11  -- In the midst of the ordinary "going along and talking" came the extraordinary.

"Elisha saw it and cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen."  And he saw Elijah no more.  Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces."  vs. 12 -- His first response is pure grief.

"He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan." vs. 13 -- In the midst of the grief he TOOK the mantle and STOOD.  

Then...."He TOOK the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and STRUCK the waters and said, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha CROSSED OVER." vs. 14

In his grief over the abrupt change and loss of his mentor, it was all he could do to take the mantle and stand.

Then, looking for God, he actively struck the water--He challenged God to come and meet him and then he crossed over.

What mantle is God asking you to take up today?

I have a friend named Rose who struggles with a chronic illness yet took up the mantle of packing two thousand shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child in her home this year.

I have a friend named Heather who has taken up the mantle of inviting groups from her community into her home to pack shoe boxes regularly--totaling several thousand a year.

I have a friend named Pam who lives on a fixed income but trusts God to provide materials to allow her to crochet adorable stuffed animals for our shoebox packing party.  She's made more than 200 already this year.

God has a mantle for you.  And for me.

Pick it up.  And stand.  And strike.  And cross over.

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