A Double Share of the Spirit

“Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”

Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”

II Kings 2:1-12

Who has been the most important mentor in your life?  Can you think of a few people who taught you the ropes in your career or helped you to develop and sharpen your skills?  Who has been the best model of the Christian life for you?  What set them apart?  How did they shape your life?

Elijah had been very zealous for the Lord.  He was a prophet of the Lord when many others turned away.  There was even a time when his life was threatened for speaking the truth.  Towards the end of his life, God sent Elisha to help carry the load for Elijah.  Elijah mentored Elisha and taught him everything he knew.

When the time came for Elijah to be carried away to heaven, Elisha remained with him until the very end as a faithful companion, trying to absorb as much of his friend’s life as possible.  Just before the chariots of fire arrived, Elisha made a heartful request of Elijah, that Elisha might inherit a double share of his teacher’s spirit.  His wish was granted.

Sometimes we long to have one more conversation with those who have left this world for the next, especially those who have taught us so much.  I remember a season of life, before the reliability of modern technology, when one of my own mentors was traveling abroad.  I longed to engage in conversation and continue our learning sessions.  One day it hit me that the presence I was longing for was not that of my mentor, but the presence of Christ within him.  I was quickly reminded that the same spirit that dwelt within my own teacher was available to me always.

The beauty of today’s scripture reading is the continuation of Elijah’s work in the life of Elisha.  Armed with a double share of the same spirit, Elisha continued the good work of a prophet, speaking truth to the powers of his day.

Take time today to think about those who have shaped your life and led you in faith.  Thank God for their presence and witness among you.  Ask God to show you how you might continue their legacy and live with a double portion of their spirit.  More than that, how might you pass on a triple share to the next generation?