When I was a child I spent weeks in hospital with a life-threatening illness. My parents drove about 25 miles to sit with me, but I don’t remember them being there as much as I remember being alone, alone in a bed, alone in a room, alone in a stainless steel room hooked up to an IV.
Now I usually don’t mind being alone as I learned to amuse myself in those early days, yet the fear of being abandoned sometimes plagues me. I’ve moved nearly thirty times, which doesn’t help. Once we were introduced to another couple with, “Don’t get to know these people too well for they will be moving soon.”
Today, Chambers addresses what it is like to lose a friend and a mentor, which I have also experienced. While this is not the same as being abandoned, it feels like it. How does God want me or anyone else to face this kind of loss? Elisha is the example and Elijah was his mentor . . .
“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 it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.” (2 Kings 2:11–12)
Elisha had no hope of seeing his mentor and friend ever again, at least not this side of heaven. His grief was great, a grief that is almost more difficult to face than any other.
Chambers says it isn’t wrong to depend upon a wonderful mentor as long as God gives that mentor to me, but I must remember a time will come when that person will have to go. Like an infant must be weaned, God never intends that His children depend on human support entirely. We might think that we cannot go on without our Elijah but God says we must rely on Him, not make idols out of people.
Chambers uses verses from the context to illustrate this type of experience. He describes events and memories that must not drag us into rehearsing the past, but encourage us to go on.
For Elisha, one of these places was at the Jordan (v. 14) where this separation happened. At first, he had no fellowship with anyone else, and no one who took responsibility for Elijah had been with him many times, but now he was alone. him. It was time use what he learned with Elijah. He could not pull back because reality demanded that he move forward.
For me, if I am to realize that God is God in life’s difficult experiences, I must believe Him to be with me and also must go through my Jordan alone.
For Elisha, another place was Jericho (v. 15). Here he’d seen Elijah do great things. The inclination is to want this again rather than trust that God will provide whatever great things I need to see, experience, or perhaps do myself. I’m to rely on Him instead of a godly mentor. As Chambers suggests, I must not forget that God is with me, even when I feel terribly alone.
The third place was being alone at Bethel (v. 23). Here, Elisha was mocked and jeered. He could have become enraged or filled with fear, but he trusted God, stood against it and God protected him. Whenever I feel alone and badgered (by people or Satan who mocks me often), I also need to stand true to God. He will protect me.
My part is to practice what I learn from the Elijah’s in my life. I must trust in God, pray, and as Chambers says, not look for Elijah any longer. God must wean me from over-dependency on people and I can survive that sense of being abandoned because He has promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”