At 8 a.m. on Sept. 3, 2007, millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett took off alone from the Flying-M Ranch, near Yerington, NV, in a single-engine two-seater. He was scheduled to be back by noon but never returned. His disappearance spurred a huge search that covered 20,000 square miles, cost millions of dollars and included the use of infrared technology.
However, Fossett was not found and was declared dead February 15, 2008, by a Chicago court. He was 63. More than a year after the mysterious disappearance, a hiker stumbled across a pilot’s license and other ID cards belonging to Fossett a quarter-mile from where the plane was later spotted in the Inyo National Forest.
In 2 Kings 2.1-18 there’s another man who takes a flight (but without a plane!) and disappears. There’s also a frantic search for his missing body, but in our story there are no remains or personal affects to be found (except his cloak).
This is the story of Elijah and his fiery translation to Heaven. It’s also the occasion of Elijah passing the torch of prophetic responsibility to Elisha and Elisha’s awareness of the gravity of the task. After a careful study of this passage, there are some important reminders for any Christian involved in kingdom work.
Three reassuring reminders about kingdom work:
1. No believer is indispensable to kingdom work
There may be “VIPs” in God’s kingdom work, but only because of God’s calling, grace, and power! Elijah was used of God to perform incredible miracles and deliver crucial messages. Yes, would could refer to Elijah as a spiritual VIP, but he was not indispensable.
The greatest of leaders are regularly replaced according to God’s will. Joshua replaced Moses. Other church leaders “picked up the mantles” of the apostles and prophets. They were able to take the early church to the next level. Never once has God been frustrated, wondering, “What will My people do now that he’s gone?” However important you may be to the work of God, you’re not indispensable.
2. No believer is inconsequential to kingdom work
As a Christian, you are capable of kingdom work (see 1 Cor 12.7, 11, 18). Each believer is uniquely gifted with a blending of spiritual gifts and abilities. Our giftedness, specific function within the body of Christ, and our placement in the body of Christ is determined by God’s sovereignty.
As a Christian, you are crucial to kingdom work. Therefore, don’t develop an Inferiority Complex and think, “They don’t need me” (1 Cor. 12.15-17), AND don’t develop a Superiority Complex and think, “I don’t need them” (1 Cor. 12.21-24).
3. Every believer needs supernatural power for kingdom work.
Notice Elisha’s desire for a double portion of spiritual power (1 Kgs. 2.9). He accurately recognized that he would need to be empowered by God’s Spirit to do God’s work. And if Elisha humbly thought of himself as half the man Elijah was, he probably felt like it would take twice the Spirit’s power to enable him to carry on his ministry.
Elijah’s response is interesting: “You’ve asked a hard thing!” Since nothing is hard for God, perhaps Elijah was referring to the fact that kingdom work is indeed a hard thing for a variety of reasons. We’re fighting a galactic battle! Satan is our adversary (Eph. 6.12ff.)! We should never expect to do kingdom work without resistance (1 Tim. 3.12). Expect to be hurt in ministry. Expect someone to let you down or hurt your feelings. Expect to be misunderstood. If you anticipate it, it will ease the pain just a little.
Get to work, believers! While you are not indispensable, your contribution is not inconsequential when you allow the supernatural power of God to work in and through you!