Summary: This is not a full text sermon...it is an approach to the text; think of it as seed for a sermon.
Upon reading today's text the first thing that springs to mind, quite honestly, is Erich von Daniken's 1968 book, "Chariots of the Gods?," and the several hours of my life that I will never get back for having watched so many of those late night documentaries on the History Channel about UFO's and the ancient astronaut hypothesis. Yes...I'm a nerd! I know it. ...But, it's just so cool! I don't know how many nights of my childhood I spent staring up at the stars hoping for a chance of a "close encounter" of any kind...I wasn't very particular. I just thought it would be so exciting. Having grown up on the Jetsons, Star Trek, Star Wars, and ET, I still can't think of anything much more exciting than "boldly going where no man (or woman) has gone before."
Honestly, I have no idea what Elisha saw that day almost three millennia ago, but I bet it was exciting! As I read about his and Elijah's adventure that day there is a song from another old tv show that keeps playing over and again in my head:
It's the Great Space Coaster. Get on board.
On the Great Space Coaster. We'll explore.
A comet ride of fantasy
To a place where dreams are fast and free
With new friends and new things to see
We'll spin you through the galaxy
On the Great Space Coaster. Oh-oh-oh.
On the Great Space Coaster. Off we go.
Seriously, I have no idea what to make of the whole "chariot of Israel" thing in this passage. It's just weird...but also kind of wonderful...exciting.
I think that's how life with God is supposed to be...just one weird, wonderful, exciting trip after another...one adventure after the next leading up to the greatest adventure of all...what lies beyond.
What would it do for our guilt-ridden, anxiety-laden, depressed, repressed, over-processed, and underappreciated lives if we stopped trying to understand everything and control everything and hold on to everything, and just started living for the adventure?
Notice that there's no real clear direction in today's text. All Elisha knows is that he is going to follow Elijah until the end, and all Elijah knows is that he is going to follow the Lord until the end...and they both know that the end is coming soon.
Which is odd, because they certainly don’t act like the end is coming soon. In fact, any time there’s even a hint of talk about the fact that “the end is near” Elisha does his best to hush it up. There’s no mention of a bucket list, no final instructions given, no last words of great wisdom…just two friends on a last long walk with one another…and with God.
And the places they visited on that last long walk were all places associated with the Presence of God and the people of God…especially His prophets who were, we may suppose, the friends and associates of Elijah and Elisha.
A long walk with a faithful friend, following God, seeing and making other friends along the way, advancing towards the great unknown…what a wonderful description of a life well-lived!
And what, after seeing and experiencing all of this, does Elisha want? He wants it all…and more! If possible, he want’s a double portion of Elijah’s spirit…believing that the future, even without his friend and mentor, might be better than the past.