2 Kings 2: 5b“Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”
I read an article about baseball player Denard Span, interviewed in his final year as an outfielder with the Washington Nationals. Entering free agency, he knew his time with the Nats was coming to an end, but the article was less about him and more about mentoring a rising star – Michael Taylor. Span was very willing to take Taylor under his wings because that was modeled out to Span by former MLB star Torii Hunter.
“It started with me being a young guy in Minnesota,” Span said. “I looked up to Torii Hunter. He was my hero. There were a lot of things he did for me, the little things that meant big things to me as a kid. One of the things he told me was, ‘Help the next young man coming up — go the extra mile.’ That always stuck with me.”[i]
Having a mentor is a special, and what I consider, a vital ingredient in maturing as a Christian. We have many examples of mentoring in the Bible including: Moses & Joshua; Paul & Timothy; Naomi & Ruth; Elizabeth & Mary; and Elijah & Elisha, to name just a few. As special as it is to have a mentor, it is equally painful when our mentor is taken from us.
2 Kings 2 describes the scene when Elisha’s mentor, Elijah is taken from him. About 6-7 years prior, Elisha was out in a field minding his own business, when this “man of God” comes over and throws his cloak around him. Elisha understood what that meant and after saying goodbye to his family, he followed Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21). For the next years Elisha walked closely with Elijah, witnessing more than a dozen miracles, but he also witnessed Elijah exhausted, scared, running for his life (1 Kings 19:3). Living that closely with someone, in good and bad times, brings you very close, so it is of no surprise that Elisha was devastated when he knew Elisha would be taken from him. 3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.” (2 Kings 2:3)
Elisha walked with Elijah as he took his final steps on earth. A chariot of fire and horses came and swept Elijah up and took him into the heavenlies. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. (2 Kings 2:12)
If you have a godly mentor in your life, you are blessed. I have been blessed over the years having such men in my life. But what happens when they are no longer there? Oswald Chambers wrote: “Our soul’s history with God is frequently the history of the “passing of the hero.” Over and over again God has to remove our friends in order to bring Himself in their place, and that is where we faint and fail and get discouraged.”[ii] A mentor is never intended to replace God, a mentor is intended to help reveal God to you. The intention is not for you to forever be dependent on the mentor, but to continually grow and mature to the point where you are now ready to be such a mentor to others. While we last left Elisha mourning Elijah’s departure in verse 12, have a read of verse 13. “Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak”. Elisha moved on and recognized that his power came not from Elijah, but from God himself.