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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

A Double Portion

A Double Portion
 
 
                                                            2 Kings 2:1-14
 
Traveling through the Mediterranean via cruise ship, there were a few things we didn’t know. So several events occurred that caused us to learn some of those things. One of those was the time we decided we would eat breakfast in our stateroom. So we took out our menu and started ordering. I decided scrambled eggs sounded good, with a sweet roll, oatmeal, fruit, juice, hash browns, waffles, and coffee, knowing full well I would not be able to eat all of that. So I marked all that on the order form and handed it to Joe. Joe proceeded to order some kind of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, jelly, a sweet roll, juice, toast hash browns and some fruit for later, marking each one. We put the order on the door handle and proceeded to be lulled to sleep by the gentle motion of the ship and the ocean breeze that flowed into our room. The next morning we heard the sound of a knock on our door which Joe clambered out of bed to open. As I sat up in bed I was delighted to see a person carrying two trays carefully balanced on each arm and set them down to empty the contents onto the little table in our room. This was a dream come true. Food brought directly to my room and placed before me. The man left and another one entered carrying two trays of food as well. The table having been filled was not available, so the man unloaded the trays onto the balcony table outside. The delightful smell of fresh coffee and sweet smelling rolls wafted to my nose as those trays passed. Oh yes, this was heaven. The man left and yet another man came in carrying two more trays. My eyes were about to pop out as I watched him find counter space to unload the contents on and when he ran out of space, I straightened the covers on the bed out and he began to place plates on the bed. I began to wonder who in their right mind ordered all that food. The man left as the others had and yet another one entered the room carrying two trays of more food. By this time we became quite concerned about whether they had brought someone else’s order in with ours. No, all that food was exactly what we had ordered. Everything we ordered we had unknowingly ordered for two. If I had ordered oatmeal, it was for two unless we specified we only wanted one. So we got double everything ordered. With plates, cups and bowls everywhere we weren’t sure where to begin. We tackled what we could and put some fruit in our small fridge, but the rest simply sat there where it was later collected by room service. Needless to say we weren’t too hungry for a long time after.
 
Elisha, on the other hand, knew what he wanted. No wimpy, “I will take what you have.” His was a bold order, “I want double the spirit that you have.” Elijah was a powerful servant of God, almost on the order of Moses, he was able to heal and perform miracles like parting the waters. But even more than that he knew what God wanted and where God’s people were going astray. He was constantly calling kings to mind of their status as care takers of God’s people. But often they sought their own ways, rather than God’s way. On occasion, like with Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah’s voice was not welcome, and efforts were put forth to silence him. But under the protection of God Elijah survived and his voice prevailed.  The spirit of God within him was strong.
 
So what was Elisha asking when he asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit? It could be that he saw in Elijah something very unique and different, something that appealed to his deepest longings. Perhaps more than anything Elisha wanted the same relationship with God, yet an even closer relationship. Certainly the power to do amazing deeds was enticing, but there may have been more to it than that. Elisha had been drawn to and traveled with Elijah for a while and had witnessed Elijah’s relationship with God first hand. Perhaps he longed for such a close relationship with God. Perhaps that relationship was developing in Elisha and he wanted an even deeper, closer, stronger relationship with God. And that to him was more important than anything else he could ask for, wealth, political power, fame, even health and security.
 
What is it that we want from God? If God came to us and asked, “What can I give you?” What would we ask for? Many of us would ask for good health, for well-being for our loved ones, for security in an uncertain world, a cure for cancer, etc. But before we get too far down the list of wants and desires and what we consider our needs to be. It would be wise to rephrase that question. “What does God want from us?”
 
Abraham knew. David knew. Moses knew. Elijah knew. And certainly Elisha knew. They grew up with a sense of something that was later written in the Law: “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and soul and mind.” Jesus’ own commandments were to Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. He says that on these two commandments all the rest follows. God wants our love and attention. I cannot speculate on the mind of God and why this is, but, as I have said before, God created us with the desire and the capacity to love and worship Him. We are filled with this big hole in us, this sense of incompleteness until we take care of our spiritual being, which includes a deep desire, often long neglected, to be with God. Jesus has cleared the way for that to happen. Nothing stands in our way to our relationship with God. We’ve been cleared for take-off, as the pilot says. 
 
So, why aren’t we soaring in our relationship with God? Why aren’t we walking and talking with God all the time? Why isn’t the first question on our minds, “would God want me to do this?” Because we have the inclination to get in the way. We want to hold onto what we can figure out, rather than trust God. We want to deal with the seen, not the uncertainty of those things unseen, that rely on faith. We want to depend on ourselves rather than an all powerful, unseen God. 
 
So we push God out of the picture, shove him to the back of the room. Make Him our third or fourth or twentieth priority. We are too busy, too stressed, too self-focused to include God in our plans and dealings in life. 
 
Yet, our sense of well-being stems from how often we allow God in our daily dealings with life. Elisha’s request is right on target. Give me a double portion of that spirit which dwells in you. Make me as at home with God as you are. Peter, Paul, and the Gospel writers all knew what it takes to find the sense of wholeness we are created to have. They knew that their relationship with God had to take first priority, even above their families, friends, illnesses, jobs, difficulties, setbacks, tragedies. They knew that God had to come first no matter what.
 
Somewhere we have lost this sense of priority. Our own little worlds are wrapped up in ourselves, first and foremost. But God is not confined to this sanctuary. It is here that we are reminded who we are in the eyes of God. It is here that we turn our thoughts to God, that we pray and sing and listen and give to God. It is here that we have the opportunity to tune ourselves into God. But God is out there as well. The relationship we find with God here is out there as well. We come here for reminders about God. But those reminders are all around us out there as well. Just as much as we “feel” God’s presence here, so we can “feel” God’s presence out there. 
 
Upon Elisha’s departure from the spot, the “sanctuary” where he had seen Elijah taken up, he went ‘out there” to test his new, stronger relationship with God. He rolled up the mantle and struck the water in front of all the other prophets so that they could see he had been given the spirit of God. Then he went about the business of being spokesperson for God. Elisha had his priorities straight. God was his number one priority.
 
Where is God in our list of priorities? How quickly does our thought of God fade when we leave this place on Sunday morning? Do we include God in our thoughts and activities of the day when we leave? Are we frantically leaving to a gathering, or do we eat then take a nap or watch something on TV keeping our radar for God low or tuned out? For many of us that would be a “yes” with an ouch. Maybe we felt good after being in church, but where did God go?
 
Lest we despair, there is hope. Faith is a work in progress. God continues to work with us. Even if we forget about God when we leave here, God does not forget about us. As we attend to God, eventually we find ourselves offering little prayers on those occasions we do remember God. When we do witness the events of the world, good and bad, we wonder what God is doing now? We come to a quiet certainty that God is still in control, even when it seems not. The sense of presence of God begins to fill the nooks and crannies of our thoughts. As we read our Bibles, little pieces begin to have new meaning. As we begin to add prayers to our daily routines, God sometimes quietly slips into our thinking. Before we know it we are beginning to “converse” with God on a regular basis. Our relationship with God continues to grow. 
 
Our destiny is to Love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds. But we may not reach that destiny while we live here on earth. But eventually it will happen. When we sense our love for God, we catch glimpses of heaven right here on earth, making us more prepared for that grand and glorious future lived fully in the presence of God. Oh the peace and joy of that time! The utter sense of love and security and wholeness that will bring! But that stuff is available here and now, in this lived life. The closer we are to God, the more we can know what that type of relationship is like. 

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