From 1 Kings 19 – The call of Elisha
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 good-bye, 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.
Now that’s commitment! Elisha could have put the oxen in a pen or turned them out into a pasture, and he could have put the plow in storage somewhere, you know, JUST IN CASE this business of being a prophet for God didn’t work out. That way, he would have a back-up plan, a “plan B” if you will. He could have left himself with a way out if at some point in the future he decided that being a prophet just wasn’t working for him. But that wasn’t what Elisha did. When he answered the call and decided to follow God, Elisha went all in. He destroyed the means by which he had made his living prior to his calling. He burned the plow and cooked the cow. There was no turning back.
When we became Christians, our desire to follow Christ should have been no less than Elisha’s desire to serve God for the job he was called to do. But a couple of years ago, God revealed another application for this passage of scripture. It has to do with the way we approach God in prayer.
My son started a new job with the phone company back in 2013. Shortly after being hired, he had to through mandatory training, much of which was pass or fail. Standards for new hires are very strict at this company. Failing meant going home and looking for a new job.
He called me one Wednesday afternoon during one crucial portion of his training and told me things hadn’t gone very well that day. There was no doubt he had ability to do the job. Like all of us when we first started in our professions, he just needed experience. But there were some things that weren’t going as well as he would have liked. As his dad, I want him to succeed. He has a family and he needed that job. I was as nervous and concerned as he was, so after talking him off the ledge, so to speak, I brought his situation before the Lord in prayer. And as soon as I started to pray, that passage from 1 Kings came to mind. I heard someone talk about that passage earlier that week and I couldn’t get it out of my mind as I prayed. The more I prayed for my son, the more I began to get a clear picture of the need to be totally committed to this prayer need of his. Like Elisha, I knew I had to be all in.
Let me explain what that means: I could have prayed and said to God, “Lord, JUST IN CASE he doesn’t pass the final exam on Friday, please have another job ready for him. I could have said, “God, please give him a plan B to fall back on, you know, JUST IN CASE.” But I resisted the urge to pray that prayer because I felt that nothing less than a total commitment to his need was what was I needed to pray for. Asking God for a plan B, ‘JUST IN CASE,’ would have been like telling God, “Lord, I don’t really think You have the power to help my son pass this test so he can keep his job.” It would have been nothing less than doubting the power of Almighty God. James said in his epistle that a man who doubts is like a wave of the sea, being blown and tossed by the wind.
Just as Elisha didn’t leave himself a way out, a plan B, or a ‘JUST IN CASE’, God impressed it upon me not to ask this for my son. So I just asked God to guide him and walk with through the final exam so he could keep his job.
When we pray, we should always seek the will of God in the matter we’re bringing before Him. But this experience taught me that there are also times when we need to go to the Lord in prayer with an all-in, 100% commitment to our prayer need, a commitment just like Elisha’s that says to God, “There’s no turning back!” . It’s the sort of commitment that demonstrates our total trust and faith in God. Of course God might say ‘No’. I don’t mean to say that we should ever make demands of God. I’m simply saying that when we bring prayer needs to God, there are certain times when we need to pray specifically for that need…..and not waver in our faith by asking God for a backup plan, JUST IN CASE! There are times when we need to demonstrate to God that there is no doubt whatsoever in our hearts, and that whatever we ask for in prayer, we believe we have already received it! Like Elisha, I think that is the kind of faith that gets God’s attention!
By the way, my son passed his tests! He’s going on his third year with that company!
All in for Christ!