Something powerful and miraculous was about to take place.
Elisha understood that as he walked across the dry ground and gazed upon the two towering walls of river water which framed their path. His mentor and friend’s pace was a determined one. Elisha forged onwards with an expectant gait. His heart beat with wonder. His gaze was purposeful and intent. He would not lose sight of Elijah, the prophet of the Lord.
Elisha knew that a supernatural, God-ordained moment was at hand. Just hours earlier, Elijah had confided,
“Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.” 2 Kings 2:3-4 New International Version
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise not.” 2 Kings 2:9-10 New International Version
In the Hebrew culture of the time, the firstborn son received a double portion of the father’s inheritance. As Elijah’s protégé, Elisha sought to continue Elijah’s prophetic ministry on earth. However, Elijah understood that this gift was not his to give. This decision was in the hands of their God and would be granted – only if Elisha witnessed Elijah’s departure.
Elisha was determined. He wanted what Elijah had. He wanted to experience the truth, the power, and the spirit of Elijah’s God. The word spirit comes from the Hebrew transliterated word, ruwach. Ruwach at its root meaning is to smell, have the scent, or accept the odor of something or some one. Ruwach is the wind, breath, mind and spirit of a person – his courage, his conviction, his inspiration, his energy, his very life and breath.
Elisha wanted to live, breathe, and smell like his mentor and friend and carry on his work to the honor and glory of their God. Therefore, Elisha stayed close. Elisha kept his eyes upon his friend. Elisha moved when Elijah moved. He would not be left behind. Not now. Not ever.
And then it happened!
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 2 Kings 2:11 New International Version
What these two men shared in those final minutes is not recorded. Yet, in a fiery flash of glorious splendor that would cause the majority of us to drop to the ground in terror, Elisha courageously looked up and kept his eyes focused – his gaze intent on following his master and friend on his course to eternity.
He would not look away.
In the past ten days, two friends of mine in South Africa, and another friend in the States have experienced the loss of a family member. Death took a daughter, a cousin, and a father. In addition, South Africa is commemorating the death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who passed away one year ago. The pain of each of these losses on earth is formidable.
As I pondered Elisha’s words, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” I cannot help but wonder if my friends and the people of South Africa desire the same? Do they seek the spirit and scent of their loved ones and to continue their work on earth? Do they want to remember the smell of their loved one in order to stay close – to stay connected – despite the separation?
As long as our motives are pure and honorable, can we ask to smell like, give off the odor of, and live with the courage, inspiration, and conviction of those who have gone before us – like Nelson Mandela, like the loved ones of my friends, like our own friends and family members who passed from this life into eternity?
I believe we can.
Our loved ones are a part of us. Their precious memories live on within our hearts forever.The form and character of their scent has meaning.
Yet, what Elisha asked for was a gift that only his God could give. We must remember that. Elisha wanted to continue the prophetic work and join his Lord in the mission that God Almighty wanted completed on earth. It was not a selfish request. His motives were pure. As a result, with Elisha’s gaze focused upon the miraculous, God honored him. Elisha continued onwards, thereafter, as a trusted servant of his God and in remembrance of his father and mentor.
Isn’t that a fitting tribute to those we love?
Isn’t that what we need to do for our God as we remain on earth for whatever time we have left here?
We keep our eyes intent on our Lord for the fulfillment of His plans and purposes on earth in honor of Him and those we love. We carry onwards and give off the scent of those to whom we belong.
Nelson Mandela must have had a good scent. South Africans and people all over the world remember his uplifting spirit and essence. Many desire to emulate it – to this day.
Don’t we want to give off a good scent, too?
Because I definitely don’t want the stink of corruption, slander, selfishness, greed, or any other vice that could contaminate the pure, lovely, and life giving odor of a life devoted to God.
Believe me – if a follower of Christ stinks – people know it! Hypocrisy, false humility, self-imposed worship is putrid, are they not?
What do I want to smell like as a missionary and follower of Jesus Christ?
I want my fragrance to be refreshing and life giving as I follow and serve my Lord today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter until it is my turn to pass into the land of Glory. It was a gift that Elisha sought. I do, too.
Photo from Girvin Blog “The Scent of Dirt”