The contours but…

In so many areas there is a spectrum of knowledge ranging between knowing the the specific details and the overall shape.  With people, especially, we have pieces of each from which we build inferences and make deductions to understand who this is.

I continue to reflect on the death of a friend and mentor who I knew only a year.  I had some details, from which a broader picture was emerging and in attending his memorial service much more was added.  Pieces of his life which I had guessed at became clearer and a richer picture emerged, yet so much is still broad strokes.  And as I’ve thought about his life the story of Elijah’s departure from this world has come to my mind.  For those unfamiliar with the story you should check out 2 Kings 2.  Elijah knows he is going to be taken from earth by God and makes his last round visiting the schools of the prophets and being followed by his successor Elisha.  Elisha will not leave his master’s side and here is their closing dialogue…

Elijah says to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha responds, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”   Elijah says, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.

In fact, Elisha does see his master “taken up” as Elijah is separated from him by chariots of fire and horses of fire as Elijah is taken up in whirlwind.  After crying out, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”  Elisha takes up Elijah’s cloak (which had fallen off) and after ripping his own wraps it around himself.  In the Hebrew scriptures clothing and office (king, prophet, priest) are related, kind of like a generals uniform and stripes.  There is a lot that I do not understand about this story but the contours…
-of Elijah’s life in which he wholeheartedly gives himself to God’s cause
-of the supernatural, larger than life, character of Elijah
 -of mentoring or bringing along this broad array of men known as the “sons of the prophets” in different locations
-of a close follower who trails after and who desires to 
emulate and embody the essence of the one who has gone before hand
-of the prayer that God would give a portion, actually more, of what Elijah had

I see these points overlapping with my friends life and while I am not the close follower like Elisha I see myself as one among the “sons of the prophets” who were influenced and encouraged by him.  But I also think that I can ask God for a portion of what I saw in this Godly man’s life:
-a profound sense of being a child of God; deeply loved, forgiven, healed and in the process of being renewed through Jesus Christ
-a robust life; becoming more whole spiritually, emotionally, relationally…
-a prevailing, unending and overcoming hope in God and his ability to change people through the gospel
-a vibrant faith in God expressed in a life of prayer and worship
-a warmth and readiness to love people, be hurt by them, forgive them and do this over and over again
-a development mindset; always mentoring, encouraging, seeing the potential in people, and particularly guiding many men into ministry
-a family life that is valued above “work,” in which each person is deeply cherished

These are the contours that I see and want to emulate.  I know these good things are gifts of God and ask for them in my life and in the lives of the other “sons of the prophets.”  In some small measure I understand Elisha looking on his predecessor’s departure, mourning that future that they will not share, and  wanting to follow in that same path.  “‘My father, my father!  The chariots of Israel and it’s horseman!’  And he saw him no more.”

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