Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And therefore the Lord earnestly waits, longing to be gracious to you: and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who earnestly wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy and His matchless, unbroken companionship.”
Isaiah 30: 18
“I have no longing but to do
At home, or else afar, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus ‘choosing not to choose,’ my heart is still.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Elisha the son of Shaphat…was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth.”
1 Kings 19: 19
“Found In a Field”
“They also serve who only stand and wait.”
John Milton, English poet (1608-1674)
In what ways do I feel that I have been called to serve my heavenly Father?
Do I feel I am in a waiting time in my life, wondering exactly what it is that God has called me to do?
What am I doing during this time of my life and do I trust God to use this time to prepare me for His special work?
“If the glory of God is to break out in your service, you must be ready to go out into the night.”
“No one gives (herself) freely and willingly to God’s service unless, having tasted His Fatherly love, (she) is drawn to love and worship Him in return.”
Over the past few weeks, we have taken another look at Joseph, one of my favorite Old Testament heroes, who spent a fair amount of time in his life, wondering what it was that God had for him to do.
I wanted to review Joseph’s life because, much to my surprise, there is a very distinct Biblical connection between Joseph and Elisha. And so before we started to plow ahead, digging deeply in the Bible into the experiences recorded about Elisha’s ministry, much of which was done for the benefit of widows and mothers, I thought it wise to look at some of the unique qualities that prepare individuals to be “servants” for God.
Both Joseph and Elisha spent a fair amount of time waiting to be called into what you and I might refer to as “active leadership” for God and yet, during the times in their lives that they appeared to be doing mundane work or menial tasks or even living in a dungeon, what I find so interesting is that they were still actively in the service of God, at least God thought so for His’ hand was over their lives, just as I believe God’s hand covers you and me.
Recently, I reread a prayer I had shared here in the garden over five years ago. I remember as I contemplated the words in this verse that I thought to myself, “I have a good idea what it is that God wants me to do!” Have you ever felt this way? It was as if a light was shining on your path and you were certain you “got it”? Well, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did!
Let me share the words of this prayer for you to consider:
“I was born to be
an evening primrose.
I was destined to blossom
into a poet
a teacher and
Now I want to stop for a moment and ask you, “Did you ever feel you had your future laid out like this. You just knew what it was you were to be and you had mapped out your life-journey with precision?”
I have a feeling that as we look at our study text for today, 1 Kings 19: 19, that as Elisha plowed the family field, working with one of twelve yoke of oxen, he most likely felt he was fulfilling his purpose in life. With so many teams of oxen, we know that Elisha’s family was not poor – quite the opposite. And as the son of a wealthy land owner, it would be only natural for Elisha to take over the duties that went into running the family estate.
Day after day, he took his place in the fields, fulfilling the duty that was in front of him. Potentially, you are doing the same thing. I know I have done the duty that God gave me for the past 32 years, or so I thought.
I was certain that operating an advertising business was the occupation that God had called me to do. In fact, I supported my belief with the fact that a great many of our clients were Christian organizations who requested our service.
But I want to go back to the prayer I shared with you a moment ago for it doesn’t just stop with the fact that you and I feel certain we know what it is that God has for us to do. Here’s how this prayer, penned by an anonymous writer continues:
“But my (you can place your occupation here)
wrapped itself tightly
around my fragile petals
binding and restraining me
until the light of morning
and I found I had never blossomed.
O God, be with me, as I try to bloom.”
For a moment, let’s stand on the edge of where we see Elisha with his oxen plowing through the fertile soil. He thinks he’s doing what he should be doing when all of a sudden an older man walks up to him, throws a mantel on his shoulders and invites him to come along with him – to take his life in a completely different direction.
This experience reminds me of Jesus’ call to His’ disciples, “Follow Me!” I want to take you to John 21 where we find that after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples, especially Peter, decided that their former work as fishermen was what they would do and so as John shares with us, Peter informed his friends, “I go a fishing.” But here’s the deal – even after fishing all night long, Peter caught nothing. His old life, his past occupation didn’t hold the same allure. What we find is that when Jesus arrived on the shore and told Peter to place his net on the side of the boat where Jesus was standing, in the presence of Jesus, there was success. But there was more – for Peter found the fulfillment he longed for when in total commitment he gave his entire life to Jesus. But there’s a little more to this story. When the disciples got to shore, low and behold, “as soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread” (John 21: 9, K.J.V.) Jesus had plenty of food to take care of His’ followers when they followed Him. Jesus was in charge of supplying all their needs! And most importantly, Jesus knew where to find His’ children. The workers He needed to accomplish every task.
He found Elisha in a field. He found Peter on the sea fishing. He found me in an advertising agency, and He’ll find you at whatever job it is that you are faithfully performing.
Even when we get frustrated and believe that what we are doing isn’t preparing us for anything worthwhile, look-out! Plowing in a field may seem like common labor to some but it was the perfect training ground for Elisha. And when the time was right – God’s mantle of service fell upon Elisha.
A Prayer for Transition
You call us on a journey to a place we do not know.
We are not where we started.
We have not reached our destination.
We are not sure where we are or who we are.
This is not a comfortable place.
Be among us, we pray.
Calm our fears, save us from discouragement.
And help us to stay on course.
Open our hearts to Your guidance so that our Journey to this
Unknown place continues as a journey of trust.
Reverend Canon Kristi Philip
Into The Unknown
into the unknown,
from a secure land
to one whose roads
I have never walked.
Companion and Guide,
You are my transition coach.
You say to me:
“Cross over the bridge.
Go ahead, come on over.
It’s sturdy enough.
Don’t look down, though,
or you might get terrified
and never walk across.
Don’t look back too long
or you will lose courage
and want to stay
right where you are.
Hang on. Keep going.
That’s what bridges are for,
to get you to the other side.
Trust Me to protect you.”
For all of us in transition
who have bridges to cross,
bless us, God of the journey,
gift us with the desire to go ahead.
Help us to trust
that the bridge will be strong
and the risk will be worth it.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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