Let me ask a big question: how are you responding to the work God is putting in front of you? Each day situations are placed before us in which we have to chose whether or not we are going to serve God in a certain way. It may be very direct, such as someone asking you to serve as a Sunday School teacher, or it may be more indirect (like seeing a neighbor who seems particularly sad). I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always good at discerning when I need to say yes to serving God. My thought process is typically: do I want to, do I have the time, and will I be successful. Yep, that’s a deeply theological process! Opportunities to serve God are constantly being put in our path, but our discernment process often leads much to be desired.
Juxtapose our often self-centered discernment process with that of the prophet Elisha. Elisha lived at a time when being a prophet was a dangerous job. His predecessor, Elijah, had endured so much difficulty that he begged God to take his life. So yeah, being a prophet was not exactly a dream job! Yet, look at how Elisha handles God calling him to be a prophet.
Elisha, the son of Shaphat, was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him. 1 Kings 19:19-21
The actions Elisha takes should serve as a great blueprint for us.
Decide God NEEDS me to serve. When an opportunity to serve comes your way consider that God may purposefully have given you that opportunity. You may discern that you are not called to that particularly opportunity, but you do need to give it prayerful consideration.
Clear your schedule: if God calls you to something you make the time for it! Elisha had to tell his parents he is leaving the family farming business to follow God’s calling, and we too may need to clear our schedules to serve.
Burn the obstacles: there will always be apparent obstacles to serving God: lack of time, lack of skill, fear, difficulty, and more. Elisha’s obstacle was his farming business, and he takes the amazing step to simply burn it. What obstacles to serving do you need to “burn.”
Simply follow: We tend to want all the details before we decide to serve. Elisha, however, simply jumped in and followed God. He trusted that since God called him that things would work out. He knew that things would still be difficult, but trusted God to bless his labor.