Vincent Van Gogh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” The Britannica Dictionary ( https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/passion ) defines passion as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”. Passion is something all of us experience from time to time, and it can be everything from a strong emotion to a driving force in our lives. Consider its impact on the prophets Elijah and Elisha:
Elijah was perhaps the most dynamic prophet in Israel. He was a seasoned veteran, a prophet who had confronted the idolatry of Baal and defied the evil Queen Jezebel. His ministry was marked by dramatic power and passion, whether he was calling holy fire down upon Mt Carmel or striding into Ahab’s court armed only with the word of the Lord. Elisha was his protégé, a younger man who was doing his internship with, arguably, the greatest prophet in Israel’s history. As Elijah’s time on earth drew to a close, he asked Elisha a question. (And, when you stop and think about it, perhaps he was asking ALL OF US a question as well…)
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” (2 Kings 2:9-10, NIV).
Elijah was a powerful man of God who prophesied during the evil reign of Ahab and Jezebel (around the Ninth Century, BC). Elisha was his protégé and heir apparent. As he followed and served under Elijah’s ministry, he saw amazing things. Elisha had seen his mentor rain fire upon the prophets of Baal and challenge a corrupt kingdom. Elijah’s passion for the Lord literally drove him into precarious situations, and he represented God in the midst of one of the most corrupt monarchies in Hebrew history.
Elisha saw miracles and confrontations, but he also saw Elijah’s heart. He saw him when he was exhausted and vulnerable, subject to the pressures of being God’s prophet. When they knew that Elijah’s time on earth was nearing an end, Elijah asked his student what he could do for him. Now, inheritance is a funny thing. I have seen families divided over who gets how much, or who didn’t get what. It almost always revolves around material things or possessions, but people often have strong feelings about what they feel should be given to them when someone passes. I’m sure Elijah didn’t have much in the way of material possessions, but Elisha could have focused on his staff, or his sandal, or maybe that piece of land down from Mt Carmel. In this case, though, without a second thought, Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. It was an unusual request, but one that deserves a closer look.
A Difficult Request
I think it speaks volumes to us, and here’s why: 1) Elijah conducted himself in such a way that his follower wanted to emulate the spirit and passion with which he lived. That’s a pretty good legacy. Who is watching YOU, and what will you pass on to them?
2) Elisha demonstrated wisdom in asking not for advice, or material things, but for spirit. He wanted to inherit, not Elijah’s possessions, but his passion and his power. The stuff we leave behind is not important, but the spirit we leave behind will resonate far more in God’s economy.
3) Apparently, in order to inherit Elijah’s spirit, Elijah had to be with him and see him depart. You can imagine that he stayed close no matter what kind of pace the rugged Elijah set, or what kind of danger he might face. In fact, Elijah told Elisha three times to leave him, and Elisha refused. He was stubborn and persistent as he pursued God’s blessing. Are YOU?
4) If somebody got a double portion of YOUR spirit, how much would that benefit them? 5) Someone, today, whether you like it or not, is following you. What do they see? As you near the end of your time on earth, will they find your lifestyle so compelling that they ask to have it replicated in themselves?
Finally, 6) who do you know that exhibits passion and Spiritual wisdom? It might be worth your time to discover how they got to be that way. Be passionate. Pursue. Persist.
Passion Worth Pursuing
Life is important. It’s not about fashion,
It’s not about bank accounts you put your cash in,
But it’s about seeking God’s favor with passion.
Elisha was learning; Elijah was leading,
And knew that their moments together were fleeting,
So he asked Elisha, “Before I must go,
What thing would you ask me that you’d like to know?
Elisha said, “There is one thing I would ask:
No matter my role and no matter my task,
I need to climb up to your greatness- or near it,
So please make me full of your passion and spirit!
And please, if you can, and it’s not too much trouble,
I need lots of help, so please make that a double.”
So, clearly, Elisha was very inspired
And he made that request from a man he admired!
But my question is this: Friend, in all that you do,
Whose passion would you like invested in YOU?
Consider your future. Consider your task,
And who has the spirit for which you would ask?
Spend time with your friends who are loving and wise,
And you’ll find that their attitude helps you to rise!
And while you are at it, consider this, too:
Who’d ask for the spirit that they see in YOU?
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