Elijah left there and found Elisha son of Shaphat as he was plowing. Twelve teams of oxen were in front of him, and he was with the twelfth team. Elijah walked by him and threw his mantle over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran to follow Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you.”
“Go on back,” he replied, “for what have I done to you?”
So he turned back from following him, took the team of oxen, and slaughtered them. With the oxen’s wooden yoke and plow, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him.1 Kings 19:19-21
Fresh off his encounter with God at Mt. Horeb, Elijah went and found Elisha, the one God had told him to anoint as his successor. There is no indication that Elijah knew Elisha before this encounter. Still, God knew Elisha and saw something in him that He knew Israel needed. God also knew that Elisha would be the right person to carry on the mission of Elijah among the northern tribes of Israel.
The first test was Elisha’s calling. One thing that we can tell about Elisha from this passage is that he had an established life. His family owned a set of oxen and the equipment to plow a field. He was part of a team of twelve that were working the field in his community. All of a sudden, Elijah shows up and calls Elisha to follow him. Elisha had a choice to make. He could stay with his established life or he could take up the mantle of a prophet of Yahweh in a culture that was ruled by those who stood against the ways of Yahweh. Elisha chose to follow Elijah and closed the door to ever returning to his old life.
In our pursuit of following God on His mission, there are times when we will need to make decisions like this. We may need to leave our old life behind and choose to follow Him into a new life.
- What is God calling you to leave behind in order to follow Him?