What Have I Done to You?

Father-Daughter co-pastors. 


1 Kings 19:20 He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?”


God had told Elijah to anoint leaders for the nation. While this final person, Elisha, was not anointed like the kings were, he was anointed by the act of Elijah throwing his mantle over his shoulders. It was a stunning moment in the life of a young man who appears to have been a wealthy farmer. He had twelve oxen yoked together which was a reflection of his success. As soon as Elijah through his mantle over him, Elisha knew that he had been called by God. The mantle itself represented a holy anointing for the work that would stretch out before Elisha. 

In that moment Elijah realized the magnitude of the call on the life of Elisha crying out, “what have I done to you?” Elijah had his moments of despair as a prophet and he realized that he would be calling Elisha to a very difficult life. This seemed to have disturbed him greatly. 

Elisha knew that this life of discipleship would cost him everything. He killed the oxen, symbolic of a sacrifice made before God, and then used the meat to feed all those in his community. When he had nothing of earthly value left to tie him down, he was ready to follow Elijah and serve God as a prophet. 


My husband often quotes his father, “Son, don’t go into the ministry unless you know that God is calling you.” Those were words of wisdom spoken by a man who knew what he was talking about. Going into the ministry cost Bill Sunberg just about everything. He was a large and powerful man who could have used his physical skill to his advantage, but he did not. He intentionally restrained himself from allowing his physical prowess to overcome him. He was gifted with one of the most beautiful tenor voices that you’ve ever heard. He won a singing contest and was invited to travel with a big band, bringing with it an “exciting” life of travel, success, women and all the things of the world. Instead, he went to college to study for the ministry. He left it all, so that he could follow Christ, but he knew what it had cost him. A generous soul, he left this world having given everything he had away. 

While we may not express it verbally, I’m afraid that too often when we recognize young people hearing the call of God we think, “Oh no, what have I done to you?” I have seen parents encourage their children to find something else to do with their lives because they are afraid of the financial consequences of following Christ. It’s not that the parents aren’t seeing the future clearly, because they probably are, but it may be their lack of faith that becomes a stumbling block to the one who is being called. If that is the case then we ought to ask, “what have I done to you?” from a different perspective. What if my lack of faith changes the trajectory of someone’s life? What if my desires push someone in a direction that may appear successful in the world’s eyes, but they lose everything in their spiritual lives? 

Our desire for comfort may drive us to make decisions with dangerous consequences. Jesus never called anyone to cheap discipleship. Following Christ as a faithful disciple; being called into the ministry; going to the mission field; serving Christ in your job; all of these require radical obedience to life in the kingdom. There is no promise of health, wealth, or success; but of having Christ formed in you, as you faithfully reflect him in this world. 


Lord, may my attitude not be a stumbling block to myself, or others. Amen.  


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