Following Where He Leads
Then [Elisha] set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:21
As a child, I looked forward to our church’s Sunday evening services. They were exciting. Sunday night often meant we got to hear from missionaries and other guest speakers. Their messages inspired me because of their willingness to leave family and friends—and at times, homes, possessions, and careers—to go off to strange, unfamiliar, and sometimes dangerous places to serve God.
Like those missionaries, Elisha left many things behind to follow God (1 Kings 19:19–21). Before God called him into service through Elijah, we don’t know much about Elisha—except that he was a farmer. When the prophet Elijah met him in the field where he was plowing, he threw his cloak over Elisha’s shoulders (the symbol of his role as prophet) and called him to follow. With only a request to kiss his mother and father goodbye, Elisha immediately sacrificed his oxen, burned his plowing equipment, said good-bye to his parents—and followed Elijah.
Though not many of us are called to leave family and friends behind to serve God as fulltime missionaries, God wants all of us to follow Him and to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to [us], just as God has called [us]” (1 Corinthians 7:17). As I’ve often experienced, serving God can be thrilling and challenging no matter where we are—even if we never leave home.
Elisha followed Elijah in ministry to his generation, and that pattern was not unique. In the final moments of the exodus, Moses—the leader and lawgiver of Israel—was succeeded by Joshua, who had been at his side for forty years. Centuries later, Jesus would follow John the Baptist (the second “Elijah” of Malachi 4:5 and Matthew 11:14) in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. These patterns of forerunners and followers are tied together by one of the most significant indicators in Scripture—names. The names of the three who followed Moses, Elijah, and John in ministry—Joshua, Elisha, and Jesus—all mean the same thing: “the Lord saves.” Throughout the years, this has been the confidence of the people of God. God saves us by His grace and then empowers us by His Spirit to follow Him and serve others where He places us.
Where has God called you to serve?