Elisha: Give Your Best Wherever God Puts You
Elijah has been gone from the room for a while, but the impact of his presence continues to linger. What a powerful man. We can tell that we have been in the presence of a giant of the faith. So I’m surprised when I look up and realize that the next mentor is already in the room, waiting for us to greet him. I wonder why we didn’t hear him coming.
He is dressed in worn but sturdy work clothes, the kind of things a laborer might wear in the fields. There’s nothing fancy about him. He has a no-nonsense look about him, and he appears to be ordinary in every way. He looks lean, sinewy, and strong, like he’s worked hard every day of his life. His face is weather-beaten and sunburned.
I’m surprised to see that he wears a camel-hair cloak just like Elijah’s. Then I notice an oddly shaped repair at the neck of the cloak. I saw the same thing on Elijah’s cloak, and that’s when it hits me. His isn’t like Elijah’s cloak. This is Elijah’s cloak! There’s only one person this could be: Elisha. Scripture says Elisha received Elijah’s mantle or cloak before Elijah was taken up into heaven.
“Have you ever felt insignificant, overlooked, and underappreciated?” he asks us as he sits. We both nod a yes. “I have too. The day Elijah brought fire down upon the sacrifice on Mount Carmel; I was at work in my father’s fields. I didn’t see it, but I heard about it. Everyone did. It was a great day for Israel, a great day for God, and a great day for Elijah.
“One day after it happened, I was out plowing in the field and Elijah came and placed his mantle around my shoulders. I couldn’t believe it,” Elisha says. “When my master chose me to succeed him as prophet, I knew I was exchanging my old life for a new one, the life of a farmer for the life of God’s servant. I expected to do great things even that very day! But I didn’t. Instead, for the next ten years I followed Elijah around and worked as a common servant. I felt insignificant.
“When we choose to follow God, what we get doesn’t always match what we expected. No matter. Even if others ignore or forget you, whatever you’re doing for God is important to God. For that reason,” Elisha admonishes, “give your best wherever God puts you.”
I turn Elisha’s words over in my mind. It’s true that God’s ways are not our ways. What we want isn’t always what serves God best. Yet when we are willing to put ourselves in God’s hands and do what He asks, giving our best, God uses us. Even before Elisha begins to speak again, I’m starting to understand some things about the way God works:
If You Give Your Best in Obscurity, God Will Recognize It
When we receive a call from God, we are often anxious to begin the work immediately. No doubt Elisha wanted to be God’s prophet. But God often gives us the time we need to learn what we must to serve Him well, even if it’s not what we want. In the case of Elisha, serving Elijah helped him learn how to serve God. Elisha left a season of sowing in the fields to enter a season of sowing in the life of Elijah.
If You Do Your Best in the Small Things, God Will Give You Bigger Things to Do
In the ten years Elisha served Elijah, he was asked to do the lowliest of tasks. An officer of the king of Israel described Elisha as the one who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah. That was normally the job of a servant of low status. If Elisha did that, he undoubtedly performed other menial tasks during his decade of service.
This was undoubtedly a change for Elisha. When Elijah placed his mantle on him, Elisha had been plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. That means his family must have been wealthy. It is likely that he was used to having others serve him. But Elisha was willing to do whatever God asked of him.
If you are willing to do small things in the service of God, and do them with excellence, God will give you opportunities to do bigger things for Him when you are ready.