As I am in my mid-fifties now and I reflect on our society one thing that I am surprised by is the incredible amount of loneliness and isolation I see. We are one of the most advanced, wealthy and sophisticated countries in the world and yet loneliness is everywhere.When I was reading 2 Kings 2:11 about the departure of Elijah to heaven and his parting question to the man he had mentored, Elisha, I was struck by the profound loneliness Elisha must have felt as the mantle of… leadership fell onto him now.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.” Matthew Henry writes, “He asks not for wealth, nor honour, nor exemption from troubles, but to be qualified for the service of God and his generation.”As God takes Elijah to heaven, Elisha looks on and cries out to his mentor “My father! My father!”Elisha is to face the needs of his generation without the benefit and counsel of his mentor. A lonely and potentially scary place to be.
The times we live in are extraordinary…the world has never looked quite like it does right now with the incredibly advanced technology alongside profound spiritual and emotional poverty.So how do we navigate through uncertain times when those we have relied on, our elders are passing into the next life? Elisha mourned the loss of his spiritual father and then he picked up his cloak. Elisha would wear Elijah’s cloak and would serve with the authority and power it symbolized. So to with us, as those we have looked to for spiritual wisdom and counsel passed on, we can pick up the mantle left behind and walk with a holy confidence as we emulate their absolute and complete reliance on God.And as God said to Joshua after his mentor Moses had died, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 1:5,6a
Praise the Lord, that we serve a God that is present for all generations, not just the generations of the past. What a comfort. We are not alone to face the struggles of our day. “Not for a moment did He forsake” nor will He ever.