Denial to confidence

January 11th, 2018

2 Kings 2:1-12

My daughter called, with hesitation and a hint of fear in her voice. With one infant not yet walking, she confided: “I think I’m pregnant. We didn’t want another one this soon.” Through questioning, I discovered she had taken a home pregnancy test four times! Each result was positive. Upon talking to her doctor’s office on Monday, the nurse asked which brand of kit she had used. The nurse said, “Oh, that’s the most reliable one. After four tests, you are pregnant—and in denial!”

We may know a truth, be told about it not once, or even twice, but four times, and still not accept it! My daughter was in denial and so was Elisha. Reliable sources, the prophets from Bethel and Jordan, warned Elisha that this was the day that Elijah was to be taken away. Elisha responded, “I know; keep silent.”

Denial of the truth, even when it is from a person of integrity or an unbiased source, indicates there are some things we do not want to face. Why not? Is it selfishness? Fear? Loss of control? Or perhaps lack of confidence?

Elijah was Elisha’s mentor. For years Elisha followed Elijah, watching and learning from him. He saw Elijah perform miracles, settle debates, bring reconciliation. Elijah had spent many years training and preparing Elisha for this very time: the time when Elisha would pick up the mantle of leadership.

The first twelve verses of chapter 2 reflect so many virtues and emotions: fear, confidence, selfishness, commitment, timidity, courage, and mourning. Even what we think of as negative can be positive when fulfilling God’s purpose. Elisha’s fear was well founded. As a leader for Israel, history shows that this nation is not easy to lead—they backslide and test God; they test their leaders. The fear may be justified, but soon it is replaced by courage and a confidence that Elisha witnessed in Elijah.

The courage and confidence comes from a faith in what Elijah believed and taught, and how God moved through his life. Courage and confidence comes from a belief in the vision and promises God gives.

In Elisha’s case, his confidence is seen in two distinct ways. First, he will not allow Elijah out of his sight. Just as he had done for many years, he was Elijah’s shadow. Even in the face of death and separation, he did not run or hide. In the second place, Elisha found the courage to ask for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. It is almost like asking, on a person’s deathbed, if you can have their car. Today, we allow the family and the attorneys to take care of a person’s estate after the person’s death. Here is Elisha, not only asking for a portion, but a double portion of something more valuable than any material object.

Often, we find ourselves in a position to perform, or take on a leadership role. Even if it is not the first time, many of us feel a bit insecure. We ask ourselves, Do I know what I am doing? What if individuals who do know what they are doing challenge me? I wonder why so-and-so wasn’t chosen; she knows so much more than I do. I wonder where the best place to start is?

Elisha, at first fearful and in denial, moved on in courage and purpose once he accepted the truth. For us, the trick seems to be the committed, faithful acceptance of the truth. Know, in your heart and mind, that whatever task is before you, God has equipped you to handle it. Too often we put off making decisions because of our fear and insecurity. What if Elisha had said, “Elijah, can you wait just a minute? I need to call my pastor or my friend and check with them about what I should do.” Our fear may mean that we do nothing; we let opportunities pass us by. Sometimes, it is just better to act rather than become paralyzed by indecision. You know the analogy: to get anywhere you have to take the first step.

Elisha stepped out boldly. In faith, his action did not mean that he did not feel sorrow when Elijah went away. It did not mean that he had all the answers immediately. It did not mean that he would not make mistakes. What it did mean was that he had faith—faith in God, faith in Elijah, and faith in himself that he was following God’s purpose for his life. He allowed for change to take place in himself, not in his circumstances or his surroundings. Scripture continues to show us that Elisha did receive a double portion of Elijah’s faith—he performed twice as many miracles as his mentor.

I urge you to reevaluate yourself and a task of which you are fearful. Remember Elisha and how he learned from watching and following someone more knowledgeable and wiser. Remember that if God calls you to a task, God will give you the tools and grace to handle it. Remind yourself that everything you do can be a sacrifice to God. And finally, accept that the victory comes when you believe that you are not only equipped to handle it, but that God has made it possible for you to excel in this endeavor!

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