Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Leaving a Legacy of Faith – Part Two of Three - Leona

A Biblical Legacy

Recently our pastor spoke of the impact that older people have had in his life. He has consistently sought out coach/mentoring relationships and they have profoundly impacted his life and ministry.

He spoke about the relationship that Elijah and Elisha enjoyed and the impact it has had through the ages. His sermon inspired me to dig deeper to find a model for leaving a legacy of faith. Once again, the Word of God proved profound and relevant!

We know that Elijah stood as a strong and mighty man of God who stared down the evil in his society and corruption in those in authority. He was mighty, he was gifted, and he was the voice of God! But one of the greatest lessons Elijah teaches us today is how to leave a legacy of power and faith.

In II Kings 2 we find Elijah and his ”mentoree,” Elisha, together on what was to be Elijah’s last day of life. They had been together traveling the back roads of Israel for over a decade, and on this day Elijah was doing “end of life” work while showing Elisha the power of God. They traveled to the Jordan and Elijah took off his cloak, rolled it up and stuck it into the wide river. Remarkably the Jordan divided to the right and to the left (reminiscent of the dividing of the Red Sea!) and the two crossed to the other side.

But what amazes me about this passage is what comes next. Elijah asks Elisha, “What do you want from me?” and Elisha answers, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”

Whoa, the next generation then, and I would guess the next generation of today, wants MORE! Elisha saw what God had done through Elijah and he simply wanted the Spirit to do even more. I see that today as I look at my children and now my grandchildren. They don’t want to play church or Christian games. They want more of the Spirit. They want to fight social injustice and poverty and corruption. They want me to not just plant seeds of faith, they want me to lay down a mantle of leadership for them to pick up and carry! But they don’t just want a soggy mantle or cloak that is thrown in a river – they want one of power and conviction.

So here is the challenge: We can’t have Elishas in this generation if there is no Elijah in the first one! The “Elishas” of this generation need to see and know people who are so alive for God that it captures their hearts and imaginations – so much so that they want to twice as much!

And so Elijah passes on the baton of ministry. It is not just a transaction or a transition: It is a transformation. Elijah says, “I’m done. It’s your turn now.” It changes Elisha’s life. He watches Elijah taken up in a chariot to heaven and he screams in excitement, awe, and probably fear! But then Elisha bends over and picks up that mantle or cloak. He willingly takes on the mantle that Elijah left behind. And amazingly that mantle is full of fire! He touches the Jordan, the waters part, he crosses the Jordan into a new world of ministry that is full of God’s spirit and God’s power.

(Photos by Darren Hester; Giveawayboy, Flickr)

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