Monday, June 27, 2016

Storms, Whirlwinds & Finding Dry Ground

image courtesy vorakorn at freedigitalphotos.net
 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.

The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”

And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.

The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”

“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”

And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.

Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan.  Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.   He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
2 Kings 2:2-14, NIV

I’m thankful for the depth and breadth of last week’s lectionary selections. Throughout these passages, we find God listening, calling, rescuing and turning his face towards his people. The passage from 2 Kings 2 is the poignant farewell between Elijah and Elisha. Traveling from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho, the prophets retrace a route taken years ago by Israel when they first entered the Promised Land. Knowing that his mentor’s time was nearing its end, Elisha twice refuses to leave Elijah instead promising to stay by his side. Upon crossing the Jordan, Elijah takes his mantle and strikes the Jordan River. Also reminiscent of Israel’s first journey, the waters part so they walk across on dry ground just as Moses at the Red Sea. After asking for a “double portion” Elijah’s spirit, Elisha witnesses the prophet being spirited away in a whirlwind, leaving him successor to the prophet’s ministry.

Whirlwinds and storms were ways God used to speak into the lives of his people. Curiously, it seems God often finds these the most opportune moments to find his people listening and ready for him. He answered Job out of a whirlwind (Job 38:1), and earlier spoke to Elijah in the calm quiet immediately following a storm. (1 Kings 19) Maybe this is why the our reading from Psalm 77 chooses to recall God’s greatness and “wonders of old” by remembering his stormy ways. When the psalmist recalls upon the greatness of Yahweh, he is the God who made the waters tremble, who caused thunder and lightening in the whirlwind, whose way was through the sea with “unseen footprints” as he led Moses, Aaron and Israel to safety. (Ps. 77:19)

Many of us can identify with times of storm and whirlwind. We can each probably recount the seasons in our life when we most needed to take refuge from the fierce winds of life that have blown uncertainty our way. I need to be constantly reminded that there are unseen footprints ahead of me, making a path for me in the deepest of waters. And sometimes, it is the storm itself that God uses to speak into my life.

Dear Lord,

Like the psalmist, I will “call to mind the deeds of the Lord” this week. When his soul refused to be comforted, the writer instructed himself to stop and meditate on all the ways God has brought his people through storms and tragedy. Help me take my eyes off the flashes of lightening long enough to prepare myself to walk on dry ground. Amen.

2 comments:

  1. This spoke to me in a deep way. On my journey with my severely disabled daughter and partially disabled husband, sometimes I feel like I am drowning. I feel like the storms come wave after wave. I get distracted and search for my God wondering if He forgot about us. I know He hasn't, but it can hurt so bad sometimes and I get weary. Thanks for reminding me that there is a message in the storm. I have experienced this recently, but it is good to hear it from someone who is walking the journey just as I am. My family is not forgotten nor forsaken. God can and will use anything to achieve His purpose in the lives of His children. God bless and keep you and yours.

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  2. God bless you and your dear family. Your words encouraged me on a day when I am feeling a very similar kind of discouragement. Peace sister...

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