“And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah” (1 Kings 19:20, ESV)?
Elijah had just put his cloak upon Elisha, and it must have taken him a moment for what had happened to sink in. When I am focused intently on my work, I get in a zone—when someone approaches me unnoticed I am likely to startle If I’m touched or spoken to. I imagine that feeling of the cloak hitting his shoulders must have come as quite a shock. Had he seen Elijah approaching I’m certain he would have stopped plowing. Elijah was kind of a rock star after all.
That he didn’t understand what had happened to him immediately is clear because he had to run to catch up with Elijah. That he did understand, finally, is clear because he ran to catch up with Elijah.
God’s call on our lives isn’t usually quite as obvious and dramatic to us as it was to Elisha. Life would be so much easier if some professional in a given field would, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, approach us and put some symbol of the trade upon us. A doctor puts his clean white coat and stethoscope upon us. A pastor puts his robes upon us. A musician straps his guitar on us. But it’s not usually that simple.
It’s likely the most frequently asked question in all of Christendom: How can I know God’s will for my life? For whatever reason, we seem to have the impression that whatever it is, we’re not going to like it. “Please, God. Don’t send me to Africa!!”
We are each wired differently. Some enjoy working with their hands: fixing things or building things. Some love working with numbers: accounting, complex mathematics, or engineering. Some are the creative types: musicians, writers, and artists. Some love working with others in service fields: doctors, nurses, social workers. The list goes on and on. So, why would God put in each of us a desire for a given line of work only to smash that desire into a million pieces and send us out to work doing something we don’t like and aren’t good at?
God doesn’t taunt us by supplying us with vocational giftings and proclivities so He can pull the old bait and switch. He doesn’t generally fill us with deep heart’s desires only to make us do something else. The call of God in our lives is usually, though not always, something that we would run toward and not away from. There may be seasons of life that have different direction so that we can learn something that will be of value in using our gifting.
Elisha had been brought up working the land. It had made his family prosperous. He did what he was expected to do as the son of a farmer. But when Elijah stopped by and issued the call of God, Elisha ran toward it! If he had a passion for farming, he would have just kept plowing, probably annoyed by the interruption. He would have run away from the call of God.
If we are unclear about what God would have us do, we should first ask ourselves what we are passionate about. What are we gifted at? What would we run toward?
What would you run toward? Blessings on your day!
Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash
In this story of Elisha, his having to run after Elijah may not be more significant than as you put it, he didn’t immediately realize what had happened and had to run to catch up to the prophet. I think in the New Testament, however, the Apostle Paul’s use of “run” rather than “walk” may take on a greater import. Paul does use the normal Old Testament metaphor of “walking” with God on frequent occasions. But when he talks about the ministry of the Gospel, he will some frequency use “run.” Is it because kingdom service, especially as we engage with others, calls for a higher level of intensity and exertion? I suspect so. Being Jesus’ ambassador is no walk in the park. It is a long distance run in the direction of fulfilling God’s calling.
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That’s really cool! Thanks for pointing out even more meaning to a great narrative.