As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. 2 Kings 2:11-14
“As a mark of mourning Elisha tore his clothes. He then picked up Elijah’s cloak to strike the water of the River Jordan. His next words, Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah, suggest that at first nothing happened.
His question reveals his recognition that the power to stop the river flowing was not embedded in any magic in the cloak but came from God, who granted him a double portionof Elijah’s spirit. When Elisha realized this, God showed His presence and the River Jordan divided, as it had in the days of Joshua.
We hear nothing of Elijah’s cloak. Pastors must never forget that there is no magic in following a ritual or some order of worship. Our faith must not depend on ritual but on the living God who provides the ritual as a means of grace.”
Musa Gotom (Nigeria) in “2 Kings” in Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo, General Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 444.
I’m in West Africa and each country has been a different experience.
We’ve had many highs and lows. The temptation is the think that the ministry work we do is magic. That if we say things the same way, God will cause the same generous stewardship to blossom. Or that people will respond passionately to follow ministry standards for growing sustainability that honors God.
We may not admit this be we often act like this is what we believe.
For a real-time example, today Samson and I will facilitate Stations of Generosity for about 50 people in Dakar, Senegal. We’ve facilitated it three times in the last 10 days. What will the response be? I have no idea. I pray it’s enthusiastic and overwhelmingly positive.
But today’s reading reminds me that this training is not magic but a means of grace.
So, wherever you serve and related to whatever you do, think of your service to God through your work not as magic but as a means of grace. Do this because God may not respond as you think or in the timing you expect. Our job is not to produce results but with the prophets to proclaim truth and trust God.