“Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel… Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho… Then Elijah said to him, ‘Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So the two of them went on…
“Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the [Jordan], and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.’ ..And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha… saw him no more.” 2 Kings 2:1-2,4,6,8-9,11-12
Somehow, the LORD had let Elijah know that his life on earth would soon end and he would be taken to heaven. Over his remaining days, with vitality ‘in the present,’ he kept on doing what God had given him to do, alongside his soon-to-be successor. They traveled and conversed from Gilgal to Bethel, then Jericho, then the Jordan, each place a reminder of Elijah’s life with God.
Elijah repeatedly gave Elisha opportunity to stop, wisely inviting his faith to follow at will, to go further. We can imagine the stories told of God’s faithfulness, encouragement, might, and intervention over his years as a prophet. We almost hear the probing questions and gentle answers, the recounting of fears allayed and fatigue assuaged, as time after time, God met him and supernaturally supplied more than enough. He did not know when his moment would come, but Elijah was committed to living to the end, giving every last breath to the work of God Who had breathed it into him, and giving all he could to the one who would carry on after him.
What time am I giving to seek His will in opportunities for each day and season? Do I seize each moment for my own ends and plans, or offer them for my Master’s business? Am I spending time and resources narrowly on myself, or with broad generosity toward others? In whom am I investing, even when it is costly, to encourage faith and the wonder of God?
Potentate of time, You have numbered my days. Give me a heart of wisdom, and vigor of soul, to live and give every day to the full. Establish my work as Your business, done Your way, according to Your holy purposes, for Your glory. (Psalm 90:10,12,17)