“So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother goodbye, and then I will go with you!”
Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”
So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.
–I Kings 19:19-21 NLT
Elisha had a calling on his life. God chose him to be Elijah’s successor. In a not so formal ceremony, Elijah makes that calling known to Elisha. Through Elijah’s actions, Elisha fully understood what was happening. He knew he had to answer the call. And he did, with an awesome display of dedication.
When we receive our calling from the Lord to go, we must go. There should be no question or doubt about it. We need to surrender ourselves to what God has planned for us. He wouldn’t call us if he didn’t have amazing things in store. This brings to mind how the disciples were called.
In Matthew 4, Jesus finds Simon Peter and Andrew as they are fishing. He says to them:
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
—Matthew 4:19 NLT
Up To Answering the Call
At once, the Bible says, they followed Him. Then He went on a little further and found James and John, brothers, who were with their father in a boat. He calls to them as well, and the Word says, immediately they followed Him. And Matthew simply got up, leaving his tax collectors booth in the distance and followed Jesus at his word.
Not all were up to the call, however. Unable to count the cost, some made excuses. The rich young man turned away because he had great wealth, and trusted more in that. Others wanted to wait for a more opportune time in their life, waiting until relatives passed on. One even says to Jesus the very thing that Elisha says to Elijah.
My thought on that is that Jesus knew the heart of the man who wanted to say goodbye to his family. It wasn’t the same heart that Elisha had. Elijah responds, “Ok, you can go back, but think about what you are being called to do.” Elisha was allowed to return. But he didn’t go back to mourn his past. In fact, he went back and basically burned the bridge that held him to his past. He broke apart his cart and sacrificed the oxen upon the pieces of it. It was his ‘leaving his father in the boat,’ as James and John did.
It’s worth mentioning, that Jesus called his disciples to do things in an area where they were gifted. He told them that they would now be fishing for people. They knew the patience and hard work it took to have a good catch. That same persistence would be needed in reaching out to people.
Where has God called you to go? What does He have planned for you to do for His glory?
What is Your Calling?
Maybe you are young and you have yet to discover that one thing that God has set you apart for. There is no need to be concerned, your calling will come. Each one of us has that one thing that sets our hearts on fire. That one passion that needs to be explored. That one itch that needs to be scratched. Your life has meaning and purpose in His kingdom. When you discover it, do not hesitate to accept that calling and follow Him with all your heart.
If you are older and have been around the block a few times, or even several times, you may know what your calling is. That specific thing is bouncing around your mind even as you read this. You know what you want to do, but time and life have always seemed to get in the way. Well, it’s never too late to begin.
I am 46 years old. I have known for two decades that I was called to be a writer. I have pressed pause more than once in my life. Now I am finally following Christ as He has called me. As God allows me to become more successful, I cannot help but wonder where I would be today if I had surrendered to that calling when I was 22. But, that is all in the past and what matters now is that I am back on track for what God desires for my life. I pray He uses me to impact your life through the words He speaks through me.
I am amazed at the commitment Elisha puts into his calling. Most of us would create something to leave behind, just in case it didn’t work out. We would park our plow inside the barn and throw a dust cover over it, then put the oxen back in the pen, make sure that the trough was full. Then we would go inside and pack a bag, making sure we had everything we needed for a safe trip.
Elisha does not do any of the sort. He gave finality to his old life. A symbol that he would not need it anymore. He left the certain life he knew with his wealthy landowning father for an uncertain future following the prophet. He answered the call on his life and left everything else behind.
Are We Able to Follow?
Do we have that kind of audacity? Would we forsake all to follow the calling God has on our lives? And if we did, would we dive in with reckless abandon?
This isn’t saying you must quit your day job, leave your family, and join a monastery. This is showing we need to answer the call on our lives in the manner God calls us to. He will not ask you to break up your family or to ignore the responsibilities that having a family holds. He will call you, however, to get out of your comfort zone. And He will also give you the strength to do it.
My reckless abandon was giving up many things and devoting myself to the things that mattered with my calling. I don’t watch too much TV anymore. If I have free time it is spent either reading or writing. I spend time with Carolyn and the kids, which will not, and should not be forsaken in light of a calling. My ultimate calling is to serve them.
How God Used Elisha
God used Elisha mightily through his calling as a prophet. From his many miracles to the prophecies to the kings he served under. I don’t have enough space here to talk about the many ways God used Elisha and the willingness to answer the call on his life. Even on his death bed, he was still honoring the Lord with being a vessel used to bring his word to His people.
How God Can Use Us
God can use you and me in the same way when we have that willing spirit to follow Him with all that we are. Give God that one area that we have been gifted. We can be doing what we love to do to draw people to the cross. That’s what it is all about anyway. So find your gift, nurture it, and live it out loud.
“If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
–Romans 12:7-8 NLT
Using Your Gifts
Then, surrender to using that gift for His glory, and remember to give Him the glory. That is one of the biggest struggles I have. I desire to continue to be a writer; to write and publish more books. But I constantly need to remind myself that God gave me this desire. I should be using it to glorify Him, not myself. It’s hard to not want to see my name in lights, under a title of a magazine article, or printed on the cover of a book. It is a daily, sometimes minutely, struggle. With the Lord’s guidance, I am learning to cope with that human part of me that wants the notoriety.
When you decide to take the step of faith of living out the call on your life, God will do things through you that you never thought possible. You will see the impact of the gift He has given you in people and you will be amazed. And like Elisha, when that surrender is wholehearted, your life will be blessed. Again, in ways you never dreamed possible. It may not always be easy, but the rewards far outweigh the burdens you may face. And God will continue to bless the commitment you have made for His glory.
So, take a look inside yourself. What can you do for the Lord? Really think about it…
Awesome, now go do something about it. Change the world for the glory of God.