By Jeremy Writebol
How about ‘dem bears!
As a man who is deficient in the “head of hair” category and who hears the mocking of young punk kids (namely my own) because of it, this story has been read before bed on a fair number of occasions. Somehow the jesting hasn’t stopped. Apart from the humor this passage from 2 Kings brings us, it drives home the reality that the torch of ministry has been passed. Elisha now has the role of representing God as a prophet in Israel.
These kinds of transitions can be rather difficult. The church where I serve on staff has been in the midst of a transition between a man who served as senior pastor for over twenty-five years to a new leader. The fear that this new pastor won’t measure up to the impact of the former looms high. Following a faithful legacy-leader can bring out all kinds of insecurities and challenges that, just a few months earlier, showed no signs of bubbling to the surface.
The question that often sits below the surface in these kinds of transitions is one of God’s presence and favor: Is God still with us? Has His blessing, His power, His grace subsided in some way so that we’re worse off than when we were before?
After Elijah is raptured away in the whirlwind, Elisha stands holding the mantle of ministry and asks, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). The answer is immediate. God is still there, still powerful, still faithful, still holy. The transition from Elijah to Elisha was not a downgrade or transition from God’s power and glory to a lesser power and glory. In Elisha’s words to Elijah we are reminded of God’s promises to us in Christ: “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you (v.4).
You may not be in some sort of leadership transition today, but any transition in life can draw out these questions in our hearts. In the change from one career to another, Is God still here? In the transition from health to sickness, Where is the Lord God? The movement of life and the inevitable struggles that come along with this ever-changing world unsettle our hearts and minds, leading us to ask, Where is the Lord God?
The good news of the gospel is that God has not abandoned us. Even in the hardest changes of our lives, from youth to old age, from health to sickness, from stability to rapid change, the Lord has promised us in Christ that He will never leave us or abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). If God is present with us and is undiminished in his power and glory from one season to another, how much more can we trust his faithfulness!
As Elisha performed miracles, turning undrinkable water into potable water, and calling down a curse on those who mocked God (just like his mentor had before him), God’s power was clearly demonstrated, yes, but so was His faithfulness from one season and one generation to the next. In all our transitions and changes, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He will never leave us.
Written by Jeremy Writebol
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