Summary: Why Consistency in our Spiritual Walk is important.
Iliff & Saltillo UM churches
March 2, 2003
“Stay in Right Lane”: Consistency Counts
INTRODUCTION: We will soon begin the Lenten Season. I’d like you to look back over the past year and ask yourself the question, “Am I a more consistent or less consistent Christian than I was last year at this time?” The Lenten Season is a time to reflect on our walk with the Lord and to make the changes we need to make. During the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, I will be using a series of ROAD SIGNS, which we are all familiar with, to help us in our journey.
Today is “Stay in Right Lane”: Consistency Counts. We have all seen the orange construction signs on the highways that say, “Stay in Right Lane.” It’s there for a purpose. What you also see is people who pay absolutely no attention to these signs. People impatient with slow traffic think they will try the left lane anyway. No one traveling in that one. Sign doesn’t mean anything. Let’s try it. Down the road they find this wasn’t such a good idea. People won’t let them back into the right lane, and they may now be at a complete standstill. Has this ever happened to you?
Today’s scripture speaks of the importance of consistently obeying the signs that are put there for our benefit. At the beginning of this chapter the aged prophet Elijah and his younger assistant, Elisha, were walking from Gilgal. There was some indication that this would be the day that Elijah would be taken to heaven, and Elisha was aware of this revelation. Elijah wanted to visit the schools of the prophets one last time. As Elijah and Elisha were talking, it seemed as if Elijah was trying to “shake him off” by saying, “Stay here, the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” He was trying to sidetrack him from going along. This doesn’t seem to be a direct order but rather a suggestion like, “You don’t have to go all the way down there with me. Why don’t you just stay here at Gilgal.”
Elisha answered, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them continued to walk on toward Bethel.
Elisha did not want to leave Elijah just in case this was actually the day. When they got to the school some of the students took Elisha aside and said, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” Elisha said, “Yes, I know...but don’t remind me of it.” This happened three different times and Elisha answered in the same way each time. What he is actually saying to Elijah is, “Not on your life. I’m not letting you out of my sight!”
From Elisha’s thinking he doesn’t want to miss out on anything.
From Elijah’s thinking he wants to know for sure if Elisha is really the one to be his successor by putting him to a test.
Elisha passed the test all three times by refusing to be sidetracked. He had developed a pattern of consistency over a period of time while he was Elijah’s aide. He was a person who had learned to “stay in right lane” and not let anything sidetrack him. What does today’s scripture say to us today?
1. Day by Day Consistency: Too often we view our Christianity as important but not an integral part of our daily life. It is a compartmentalized thing--assigned to an hour on Sunday morning. Elisha would never have passed the consistency test had he not been walking with the Lord daily. It would have been tempting to “stay behind.” Day in and day out, good days and bad days, Elisha followed the Lord. Many things could have sidetracked him. It may have sounded very logical to him that Elijah his mentor would have him stay behind that day. But he knew what he should do, and he continued on the way. I think that God gives all us difficult assignments to see what we will do.
All of us have many things that try to sidetrack us in our Christian walk. Today we have more options than ever before. We are lured away from the Lord in many subtle ways as well as in more direct ways. You face these every day. Jesus knew that we could easily be distracted and that is why he told his disciples a way to “stay in right lane.”
Luke 9:23 says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Our daily determination to follow the Lord counts. It is not just the big decisions that trip us up but rather the little daily choices.