Reliable promises

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” …Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ … As they both were standing by the Jordan. … Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” … As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. from 2 Kings 2
People who live along and near the Gulf of Mexico have endured a manmade hell of stress, lost income, a suffering regional economy and environmental damage for nearly three months because human error unleashed a gushing well deep under the Gulf’s waters.
Until Thursday, when a new cap finally stanched the flow, optimism was less than prevalent.
The cap may not work, or it might be removed to try another solution.
Hope, however, is visible as normal sea water swirls where a cloud of oil billowed from the sea floor for 87 days.
Few things test optimism, hope and faith more than disasters beyond an individual’s control.
The Rev. Barbara Smisek, a Congregationalist preacher in Nebraska, described a recent mission trip made by some members of her large Lincoln congregation to help repair flood damage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Smisek said it was not until after the mission trip that she understood with clarity the power of the story of Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings – the change in prophetic authority and the promise that sealed it.
At its core the biblical story is about great change and the anxiety that comes with it.
“I talked earlier … about the popularity of the Elisha and Elijah story,” Smisek said. “I’ve read this passage, I’ve heard it all my life, but when I read it for today’s sermon, for the first time it wasn’t the chariot and it wasn’t the blazing horses or the mantle or the mysterious disappearance that caught my attention. Instead, my attention went to Elisha’s words, his response to Elijah. … Elijah says to Elisha … ‘Stay here, for the Lord has sent me [on],’ and … Elisha says to him, ‘As the Lord lives, as you yourself live, I will never leave you.'”
Anyone in trouble or under stress welcomes the reliable word of a trustworthy companion, friend, spouse or child.
“Friends,” said Smisek, “God is with us all the time. We carry God’s Holy Spirit inside of us, it dwells, it stirs within us and because of that we are hard-wired to take care of each other. We need each other and we can help each other because we can show up and we can listen.”
If we believe that God is with us all the time, we’re walking in the same faith in which Elisha walked – and we will be compelled to carry the promise forward.

NEMS Daily Journal

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