1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 (NRSV)
Verse 15Then the Lord said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Verse 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.
Verse 19So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. Verse 20He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you." Then Elijah said to him, "Go back again; for what have I done to you?" Verse 21He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.
Journey or destination? I prefer the latter, especially when someone has to remind me that the life of faith is a journey. Our readings this week challenge us to consider that journey—if we are to be a follower of Jesus.
Today we encounter Elijah along his journey as a prophet. Previously, Elijah had spoken truth to power, had been threatened by power and had seen God’s power victorious over corrupt human power. Yet now Elijah feels threatened and on the run as he shrinks in the face of that corrupt power.
Today’s reading raises several questions in the course of Elijah’s story. After all he has experienced, is it time for Elijah to throw down his mantle and pass it on to another? And as he receives that mantle, does Elisha first bid his parents farewell? A yoke of oxen and the equipment for plowing seems a lot of capital to give up for the sake of this new call to follow.
At this point in my journey of faith, what is Jesus requiring of me?
Loving God, for the decisions I must make, increase my trust in Jesus’ guidance. In the unknown I will face, increase my confidence in Jesus’ presence. Amen.