So it was that during the time they crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I may do for you, before I am taken away from you.” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So Elijah said, “You have asked a hard thing. If you see me when I am taken up from you, it shall be so for you; and if not, it shall not be so.”
Elisha wasn’t the biological son of Elijah. But he was Elijah’s spiritual son. And I think that’s fitting for us.
In the ascension of Elijah, we see the “passing of the baton” from one generation of leadership to another. Elijah had been the spiritual-political leader of the people. And that line of descent passed to Elisha. Where Elijah had served to keep the people moving onward and looking upward toward the Kingdom of God, that now became Elisha’s task.
We often speak about dearth of leadership in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. The overwhelming majority the ones who really moved the needle are either dead or have been ostracized from public life for waging battle against the modern day Roman authorities. And those authentic leaders who do remain are fading.
We know this…but we’ve been satisfied basking in the limited grace they left behind…the leftover grace given to them, which they used to fight the good fight.
Elisha shows us something different: “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” Elisha knew that to go further than his teacher had led him, he would need more grace than what his teacher possessed. He knew that despite how far Elijah had brought the people, there still was further to go on this journey to the Promised Land. So, he was boldly humble enough to request an extra portion of grace from above.
What do you do…you who have been called to leadership? You have follow in the footsteps of greatness?
Are you able to move the needle beyond the point where you found it, without an additional measure of grace beyond those who came before you? Are you hoping to move that needle further toward justice and righteousness? Or, are you satisfied resting in the space that has been carved out before you came?
If you want to make it to the Promised Land…if you truly expect to see Jesus, you know we have further to go!