"…Elijah said to Elisha, 'What do you want me to do for you before I’m taken away from you?' Elisha said, 'Let me have twice your spirit.'" - 2 Kings 2:9 (Common English Version)
I have always disliked child prodigies. Since the days of Doogie Howser, their computer-beating chess play, technically flawless viola, and odd but effective spelling bee strategies have gotten under my skin. It doesn’t seem fair that someone so much younger than I am could be so much better than I am!
I wonder if Elijah, too, didn’t get irked when Elisha asked for two scoops of spirit to the older prophet’s single dip. For one thing, how do you ask a guy who you know only has five bucks to give you a ten? For another, whatever happened to, "I wish I could be half the prophet Elijah is?"
The fact that God was sending a chariot of fire to take Elijah to heaven may have made him less insecure than I am. But in those last few moments, did Elijah wonder if families would be saving Elisha two chairs at Passover?
Probably not. And I could likely learn something from him.
The Church could use a generation of spiritual prodigies. The UCC needs them. The world needs them – kids hungry for a second helping of soul.
May we be the mentors the next generation needs to inspire them to such precocious requests. May we have the wisdom to pass our mantles and catch our chariots. And may we be secure enough in our own blessings to smile as they surpass us.
God, send us more Elishas! Make us half the women and men our children grow up to be.
Vince Amlin is Associate Minister at the United Church of Gainesville, Gainesville, Florida.