Summary: We find our way through the changes in our lives by recognizing God is present and at work. Changes are more than just changes. Changes are transition.,
Title: Holding On, Letting Go and Taking Hold
Text: II Kings 2:1-12
Thesis: We find our way through the changes in our lives by recognizing God is present and at work. Changes are more than just changes. They are transitions.
The following clip is very brief so a little background might be helpful. Sheldon Cooper is a very eccentric character… he is easily unhinged. On one occasion someone attempted to serve him French toast on oatmeal day which resulted in him dumping the French toast, which smelled absolutely delicious, in the trash. You can’t eat French toast on oatmeal day.
In this clip he learns his upstairs neighbors and moving he will be getting new neighbors. When asked if he had ever met them this is what he said, “I never met them. That’s what made this perfect. There were no awkward hellos in he halls. There was clickety-clackety of high-heeled shoes on the hardwood floors. They may as well have been a family of cats… only without the annoying ammonia smell.”
This is how he reacted to the news of an impending change in his life.
YouTube Clip: Sheldon Cooper on Change
• Sheldon: Change is never fine, they say it is, but it's not.
This biblical account is about the changes or transitions in life. In our individual lives transitions bring out strong emotions: putting your kindergartner on the bus, watching the graduate march down the aisle in cap and gown, a mother dissolving in tears at her child’s wedding, a once-healthy person suddenly becoming a patient. Death. Unemployment.
One of the most traumatic transitions in my life was when our daughter Lorri got married. I was officiating the ceremony but Bonnie’s father was conducting the ceremony through the part where I walked with Lorri down the aisle.
The music was beautiful. The bridal party stood in their places at the altar… beautifully dressed bridesmaids and handsome tuxedoed groomsmen. Lorri was strikingly beautiful in her wedding gown. The bridal march had begun and it was time to escort my little girl down the aisle. The moment I took the first step, I burst into tears. Lorri was sobbing. I couldn’t stop. She couldn’t stop…
For 21 years I was the man in her life and now I was about to lose her to a younger man.
Change or Transitions are not the exception. They are the rule. Change happens. We are all being altered in appearance. We are changing. To live is to be in transition… changing. So how do we do change? As people who love God and want to live for God and be in the center of God’s will, how do we navigate the transition in our lives? Do we go kicking and screaming into tomorrow? Do we question the wisdom and will of God? Do we bitterly stew angrily in our juices? Do we blame someone for messing with a perfectly comfortable status quo?
I like our text today. Though it speaks to a particular situation, I think what we can glean from the story is transferable to nearly every transition we experience. I think our text is instructive in helping us navigate our way. Change was in the wind. Something big was about the happen. One man was about to check-out, so to speak, and the other was about to check-in.
As the narrative moves along we initially see Elijah and Elisha… holding on. By holding on they are not abandoning ship. They are faithfully riding out the storm.
I. Holding on
“Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” II Kings 2:2, 4 and 6
There is a back story to this narrative. Elijah was a powerful prophet of God. He was known for confronting whomever was in power in Israel and calling them to turn from their sinful ways, back to God. The powers that be did not necessarily appreciate his confrontations.
The bible says in I Kings 16, King Ahab did more to provoke the anger of God and any other before him. He married the infamous Queen Jezebel, a pagan queen who brought the idolatry of Baal worship into the land. So on one occasion Elijah paid a visit to King Ahab and told him that because of his ungodliness there would be no rain in the land for several years… and there was no more rain.
Three years later Elijah went back to see Ahab and challenged him to choose… if God is God follow him. If Baal is god, follow him. They arranged a showdown at the OK Corral on Mount Carmel where Elijah challenged the Prophets of Baal to a contest. Two altars would be built and a sacrificial bull would be placed on each. The prophets of Baal and Elijah would each pray that fire would come down from heaven and consume their respective sacrifices. The prophets of Baal failed to call down fire from heaven to consume their altar. Elijah succeeded. A lightning strike consumed the bull and the altar as well. Consequently all of the false prophets of Baal were then killed…