Just 5 short days after my last post, I officially graduated from the Chaplain's Basic Officer Leadership Course at Ft. Jackson, SC. Aaaah, I finally did it. [Insert moment of elated accomplishment]
Then I returned home. [Moment's over.]
I was immediately thrust back into my civilian job, where I was now painfully behind on my work. I began to make some headway and re-acclimate to my life, when Uncle Sam snatched me back to military duty for 2 weeks. This time it was to spend some transition time with the the exiting Chaplain of my new unit. This overlap was a precious gift that may likely never happen again in my military career. One entire week was spent being shown around and brought up to speed on anything that might be helpful to know before I take over.
Then came week 2.
The reality of my new assignment set in as I made the drive to Gadsden realizing Derek would no longer be there. The baton had been passed. Time to run my lap. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous about that. Then God, in all His wisdom and mercy, gave me a gift.
I was reading in II Kings when Elijah was taken up into heaven. He knew he would be leaving soon (though I'm not sure if he knew of the dramatic exit God would write into his script). So he did what Derek did with me ... he initiated a transition period. Elijah spent some time with Elisha preparing him for his departure. They walked and talked. Maybe a little Q&A. Elisha even got to witness Elijah perform a miracle. (See II Kings 2:8 when Elijah struck the Jordan with his cloak and the river parted.) Then in a flash, with the Chariots of Fire theme song still echoing in the air, Elisha is suddenly standing there alone. "Great ... now what?" he must have thought. Fear, anxiety, loneliness, and countless other emotions must have rushed through him.
He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. (II Kings 2:13-14)To me, it has a hint of tantrum to it. Slapping the water with Elijah's cloak yelling at the sky, "Where are you now, God?" Separation anxiety would be normal under the circumstances, just as it was normal for me last week. But God's reminder to me was the same as His to Elisha. While our predecessors may have left, God has not. When Elijah left, Elisha felt as though God had left too. Suddenly the task felt way too big. I'm alone. I'm powerless. I'm just ... me. I'll never be able to do it like he did. But the above wasn't the end of verse 14. It continues ...
... When [Elisha] struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.In the midst of Elisha's little pity party, he performed the same exact river-splitting miracle Elijah had done before he left. Oh, the irony. Elisha's moping around, feeling inadequate, inferior, incapable. Then God reminds him that the power was never Elijah's. Elijah wasn't any better than Elisha. What made him special, what made him powerful, what made him capable was God. And God was very much still there ... with Elisha. The same miracle Elijah did, Elisha did. The ability was not in either man, it came straight from God.
I have no need to worry about what is to come as I serve my new unit. God is as present with me as He was with Derek. And neither of us have any abilities in and of ourselves. But with God ... well ... with God, anything is possible.
Maybe your mentor or partner or predecessor is gone and you are feeling way too small for what lies ahead of you. Maybe your duet has suddenly become a solo. Don't waste another minute worrying. God is there as large and in charge as He's ever been. Rest in that. Stop comparing. Be yourself. With the help of God, there may even be a miracle up your sleeve.