Do you remember the story of the prophet Elijah and his intern, Elisha? Elijah had been a great prophet in Israel. It was Elijah who had the showdown with the prophets of the idol gods on Mt. Carmel. When he prayed, fire literally rained down from heaven! He was used mightily by God. Elijah was so close to God that death could not overtake him. He was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind! What a spiritual giant he must have been! Living in the shadow of a man like that would have been tough for the young Elisha. The one request Elisha had of his mentor was that he might receive a double portion of the prophet’s anointing (2 Kings 2:9). He knew that it was not enough to focus on the revivals of the past. He knew that yesterday’s outpouring was not sufficient for today. He understood that God had to do something fresh! As Elijah was taken away into heaven, his cloak drifted back down to the stunned young prophet Elisha. Elisha had Elijah’s cloak; could he fill his shoes?
Standing over the Jordan River, Elisha held the cloak of Elijah in his hands. He had seen Elijah part the waters of that river just moments before. He knew that people were watching and that his own credentials as a prophet were on the line. He let out a gut-wrenching cry, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” You can hear the anguish can’t you? It’s almost as if Elisha was saying, “God, if you don’t do something fresh, I’m sunk!” And God did. Just as they had been for Elijah, the waters of the Jordan were swept aside to make a dry path for Elisha. But, this event was not the pinnacle of Elisha’s ministry. It was only the beginning. Elisha continued to see the powerful work of the Holy Spirit throughout the remainder of his life. When he faced difficulties, he did not get nostalgic about the fire Elijah had. He called for his own fire! When he was surrounded by an enemy’s army, he did not wistfully recall the days when Elijah was protected as he faced the wicked queen Jezebel . Elisha saw the heavenly armies that outnumbered his earthly aggressors and even took those aggressors hostage (2 Kings 6:17-19)!
We are moving into an exciting season in the life of our church. This month, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of The Capital Church. We thank God for what He has done to establish this church as a local expression of the kingdom of God. We are grateful for the visionary men and women who prayed, planned, and sacrificed to launch a new ministry in this location. In four and a half decades this church has grown in a number of ways. You have planted other churches—both in the US and abroad. You have supported missionaries. You have sponsored helpless children. You have seen lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. You have matured in your faith. The list goes on and on. But, I believe that the greatest days are still ahead of us! I want to thank God for the past, but what God did for my grandma is not enough to sustain me! What God did yesterday is not enough to meet the demands of the world we live in now! We don’t want to stop with celebrating the past. We want to savor the present and live in expectation of the future!
“That Old-Time Religion” is not good enough for me! I want fresh fire! I want to see what God will do among us now. I want that double portion of His Spirit. I want to see barriers broken, lives transformed, the Gospel advanced, and Jesus exalted in my life. I want that for this church. I want that for you. The greatest honor we can render to the sacrifices made by our founders is to take up their mantle and work with equal intensity, pray with equal fervency, and dare to believe God for something fresh just as they did. Then, the waters again shall part. The fire again shall fall. The ministry of this church will expand in unprecedented ways, and God will be glorified among us! Where is now the Lord God of Elisha?