So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant. – 1 Kings 19:19-21 (NIV)
In a land of false prophets and false gods, it is impressive that Elisha has a heart worthy of a prophet of the one true God. It is impressive that not only has Elisha and his family survived in the midst of this world, but thrived. Elijah doesn’t find him hiding in a cave or living in poverty, but driving a team of 12 oxen. He had the markings of a man blessed by God and yet he left it all for a cloak across his shoulders.
God’s call is a blessing beyond compare. It defines action and gives focus to our thoughts and dreams. God’s calling is His fingerprint on the purpose for our existence and we are all called, including our children. Are we ready for our children to answer God’s call on their lives? Are we preparing our children to be God’s servants?
The question we need to be asking our children is not “What do you want to be when you grow up?” but “Whose do you want to be right now and for the rest of your life?” We work so hard to get our children to choose the right sport, the right school and the right career and hope these experiences will help them find God’s call. That seems backwards. We should be doing everything we can, through prayer, study and conversation, to help our children answer God’s call and let Him take them where He needs them, when He needs them.
Once Elisha is called, there is nothing left to do but throw a big BBQ and say his goodbyes. He breaks ties with his former life and moves forward into the life God has called him to not in grief, but celebration. The next question we need to ask is of ourselves: “Do we love our children enough and trust God enough to release them to God’s call?” I wonder how many missionary posts would be filled if parents released their children to answer the call. I wonder how many communities would be transformed if God’s call was more important than career options in family conversations. I hope my wife and I have the courage to raise our daughters to answer the call, and the faith to release them to follow it wherever God leads them.
Lord, help me to be brave in raising my children to be called by You. Give me the perseverance and faith to lead them forward into a life defined by Your call. Amen.