Saturday, March 7, 2015

Waking Up In The Elisha Room

    Silence. I sat in silence in Dr. K’s office because I had no response to her simple yet profound question. She had listened to my entire life story up to this point. By now she knows where I’m coming from. I had come to her for help moving forward. So when I stopped talking she gave me a moment to take a breath then asked, “What is it going to take for you to see what you’re doing now, this place that you are in, as something new?”
   Admittedly, my soul had become weary, and instead of looking at my life now as a fresh start I was seeing it as, “Here we go again!” To me, any bit of progress was just more set up for failure. It’s a sorry attitude to have and an even more depressing outlook on one’s future.
     I had no answer for Dr. K other than to promise that I would think about her question, make it a matter of prayer and see what changes could be made to gain a new perspective.
     I also wanted to discuss this question with Chad, and to be honest with him about how I was feeling. Thankfully, we were blessed to have an opportunity to travel together coming up. A church in Sedalia, MO had invited us to come speak to their congregation about Mission OKC. I don’t always get to travel with Chad, so this was going to be a special overnight trip. No kids, just us on an apparently God ordained road trip.  
For months, Chad had been corresponding with the mission’s pastor of the church. Somehow in all the correspondence we missed the email containing details about arrangements they had made for our overnight stay. Not knowing that they had already made accommodations, we went ahead and made our own reservations to stay in a hotel close to the church.
     A couple of hours outside of Sedalia, Chad gave the pastor a call to give him our ETA. The mission’s pastor graciously invited us to dinner and wanted to confirm what time we would meet, “Well,” Chad said, “My wife and I will need to check in to our hotel room and change clothes first.”
     The pastor sounded confused then asked, “Did you not get my email about The Prophet’s Chamber?” Chad’s response was, “What’s that?” Apparently it was expected that we would be guests in their associational missionary housing. The name they have given this cabin is “The Prophet’s Chamber.”
      We felt horrible that we had missed their invitation, and immediately called the hotel to see if they could cancel our reservations. In an act of rare kindness and over the top customer courtesy, the receptionist at the front desk assured me that it would be not problem at all to cancel our reservations even though we were within an hour of check-in time. It would seem that we were predestinated to spend this night in the “Prophet’s Chamber”. 
      We called the missions pastor back to confirm that we appreciated his efforts at making accommodations and ask for the address. “Great!” He said, “We’ve reserved the Elisha room for you!”
       An hour later we had successfully navigated our way to The Prophet’s Chamber and were parked in front of a big white door inscribed with the name ELISHA.
After enjoying a nice dinner we came back to the room. Chad spent the evening going over his message for the next morning, and  I decided to spend some time with the Lord.
There could never be a more obvious time or place to take my question to God in prayer. So, in that quiet space, I just came out with it. 

“God, I want to be excited about the new work you are doing in my life, but I know that means letting go of the past. I have to trust that You are at work in our lives right now. I want to move forward in faith and with joy in your plans for us. Please give me a fresh vision and renew a right spirit in me.”

        I said amen, picked up my Bible and for obvious reasons, turned to 1 Kings 19:19-21 to read about Elisha. As I read, I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit instructing me through His word. He had searched my heart and was delivering an answer. By the power of His Word, God lifted me up onto His shoulders, allowing me to see beyond my shortsighted human perspective, and to share in His much grander view.  I could see that if I wanted to be a part of God’s big picture for our lives, some things in my heart needed to change. Here is the instruction I took away from my devotion time that night.

1.) Work Expectantly In Your Present Field
 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him.” 1 Kings 19:19

         Ruth, David, Joseph, Rebekah, Daniel these heroes of the Bible were all discovered by God as they were faithfully performing seemingly ordinary tasks under difficult circumstances. Every time I am not sure which step to take, I think of Ruth waking up in a foreign land, asking Naomi if she could go and glean in the field. This was the ONE thing she could do. She wasn’t going to become idle and depressed over her current circumstances. She saw an actionable step and she took it. I love how Scripture tells us, (and I am paraphrasing), “As it turns out she ended up in the field of Boaz.” It just so happens that her few, faithful diligent steps landed her in the one field, belonging to the one man who would be willing and able to redeem her situation.
          Here we find Elisha, behind a team of oxen, working diligently in a field where he was now being called away from plowing the hard soil of the field to be the voice of God, plowing through the hardened hearts of the Israelites.
         God takes notice when we put feet to our faith. He sees the smallest efforts we take toward the call He has placed in our hearts and meets us in that place! As I heard it put another way, when we get up off of our “blessed assurance” and get to work; it is there where He blesses and multiplies our efforts.
            When Chad and I landed in OKC we had zero options. After many failed attempts at job finding, I found myself begging the manager of a dry cleaner to hire me. Once we surrendered to God’s way and saw an opportunity to move in to a low-income apartment complex, we took it. We have done some really foolish looking things to keep moving forward, but God kept meeting us in those places, giving us favor and revealing another step forward.
            Sometimes you hit a really big obstacle, and you feel like you’re at a stand still. That’s when God reminds us that none of our efforts will be wasted. He sees you in your field. He sees the work you are doing! Be faithful!

2.) Say Your Goodbyes To This World
“He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 1 Kings 19:20

When Elijah cast his coat representing his mantle, upon Elisha it was a call from God. It was God saying, “You’re next, Elisha”. Picking up that mantle meant living the life of God’s man, always ready to answer and obey. Always ready to kiss the world, as you know it, good-bye.
            I have learned the hard way, that anyone and anything can become an idol. I have become ashamed by how I had let my identity become so consumed by a name, by other people in my life, by an address etc.. Jesus is looking for men and women who will serve Him with an undivided heart. Every day, moment by moment, we have to redirect our affections from worldly things on to the things of God. When we engage fully, with abandon into His Kingdom work, the rest of our lives will come in to order. (Matthew 6:33)

3.) Burn The Bridge To Your Past
“ So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.” 1 Kings 19:21

     Elisha said his goodbyes to the cares of this world, then he killed the oxen. This team of oxen represented his old way of life, his livelihood and all he knew up this point. He killed it dead. Not only did he kill the oxen, he started a fire with the plow and threw himself a big-oh going away party. He wanted all his friends to know, “Hey guys, if you need a field plowed, don’t call me, I’m God’s man now!”
     It can be painful and messy sometimes to untangle from the past. God has shown me that sometimes, it has to be done in such a way as to remove any temptation of going back or we will not face the fear of moving forward into the unknown. If I was truly going to be able to face the future, then I had to quit looking back.

    I woke up in the Elisha room with a new song in my heart. God is doing a new work in our life; He had renewed my vision so I can see it. Now, all that is left to do is to walk in His way.   

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