When Is It Time To Let Go?

Pastor Karl J. Penn | 1 Kings 19:19-21

Everything is going well, the family is good, the job is good, the day couldn’t get better…so why do you feel unsettled?

Well, maybe it’s time to move on. Maybe it’s time to let go.

But how do we know if the time is right?

Let’s look to 1 Kings chapter 19:19-21 for a little help.

“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.  He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.  Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.  Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah.  “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied.  “What have I done to you?”  So, Elisha left him and went back.  He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them.  He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.  Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.” 1 Kings 19:19-21

Elijah was the first of the great prophets, welcoming greater miracles than any other prophet before him, setting the standard for Old Testament prophets.  But then comes along the younger Elisha who was bold enough and faithful enough to ask God for a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. After God said yes, Elisha actually performed more recorded miracles than Elijah or anyone else in the Bible except Jesus.

Elisha lived during the 9th century B.C. in a time when Israel was divided into the Northern and Southern Kingdom and many people were worshipping the false god Baal, making it a troubled time in Israel’s history.  What is interesting about Elisha is his very ordinary background.  He wasn’t the son of a priest, he wasn’t a great warrior like Sampson or Gideon, he wasn’t known as a great leader.  He didn’t live in Jerusalem with the Kings and there was nothing necessarily special about him.  And when we first see him, he wasn’t known as a spiritual giant; He was an ordinary guy comfortably living at home with his Parents -working on a farm;  And then, God called him to do something incredible:  To let it all go.

Let It All Go

Elisha was doing the same job he had been doing for a long time.  Working on his Parent’s farm, driving the oxen…for years!  Just think about that!  Plowing behind a yoke of oxen every, single day!  Plowing and plodding in the hot sun!

What is your scenery for hours and hours everyday, day in and day out?  I bet that scenery had to get really old and the point is, maybe some of you feel a little bit like Elisha.

Maybe you aren’t experiencing quite the same thing Elisha was, but you are doing the same thing, day in and day out.  And, although you’re good at it and it keeps you with the ability to take care of your needs and even some wants -it’s getting really monotonous.

You are going to the same job, working with the same people, staring at the same things.

It is easy to lose your passion for life, when all you see is what’s right in front of you.

I wonder if Elisha ever asked himself, “Is this all there is?”  I wonder if he asked, “Does God have a next for me?”  A different purpose?  I wonder if he’d heard of Elijah and had a growing inner desire to serve God in the same powerful way the prophet had been serving?

Elisha was working with what God put in his hands for his Family!  We can see his faithfulness and we can see his discernment.

There are many times when God is telling you to stay put.

Discernment is key here and this story shows we need to listen for God’s move of the Spirit, during times of transition.

Sometimes, when it’s time to let go, the enemy will send a distraction.  I believe God wants to reward those who are faithful with what they have, for when you are faithful with your present, God can trust you with your next.

Elisha is out in the field plowing staring at what he sees everyday and Elijah comes along.

Verse 19 says, “Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.”

This would have basically been Elijah’s coat, made of animal skins and it was literally his covering.  Elijah took his covering and he put it on Elisha, symbolically saying, “that which covered me, will now cover you.  The mantle that was on me ,will now be the mantle on you.  That which I was under, now you will be under.  You will be my student and I will be your mentor.  As God has been working through me, now God is going to work through you.”

When Elijah comes to Elisha and throws his cloak over him, he doesn’t give any details.   He doesn’t know why or where or when or how; the only thing Elisha knows is that Elijah wants him to follow.

When God calls you to do something, you do not have to understand all the details in order to obey immediately.

Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah,  simply saying, “Let me go and kiss my father and mother and then I’ll come with you.”

Elisha knew it was Time to Let Go!

He didn’t have to pray about it, he didn’t have to think about it for a few months, he didn’t make a list of pros and cons.  He didn’t have to consult with his counselor or ask his friends what he should do.  Based on the prayers he’s already prayed, based on the dreams he’s already dreamed, based on the faith he’s already living, he knows it’s Time To Let Go!

We want God to tell us exactly how things are going to work out and when and how and why and where.  “I want all the details before I commit.”

God doesn’t always give you all the details.  God can be intentionally vague. I think God looks at us and says, “You can’t handle the details.”  “If I showed you everything, you would either be overwhelmed, you wouldn’t show up or you would try to get the end result and credit by yourself!”

Those God uses the most, are the ones that hold onto the least.

“So Elisha left him and went back.  He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.  Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.”  1 Kings 19:21

These were the animals that provided his livelihood!

God speaks to Elisha and he immediately kills the cow and burns the plow.

Now we can understand the killing of the cow a bit because whenever God did something significant, people would offer a sacrifice.  Like in the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told – the son came back home, the father killed the fatted calf and they had a party; so we can understand the cow.

But burning the plow?

The plow is valuable and the farmer’s most important piece of equipment.  Surely you don’t burn down your plow, especially since Elisha could have simply found a tree to chop down and burn.

What was Elisha thinking?

Could it be that Elisha was burning “plan B?”

There is no more plan B, there is only plan A, which is to obey God and Let Go!

For Elisha, there is no turning back, no wavering, no second thoughts, just commitment!  Those women and men God uses the most, are the ones who hold on to the least!

All of us have a habit of holding onto extra bits of baggage that hold us back from experiencing the next step in our journey. It could actually be something that’s not inherently bad – a great job that pays well, a house you’ve grown to love, a lifestyle that’s comfortable. But just like Elisha you’ve prayed the prayers, dreamed the dreams and felt the faith – and  now, it’s time to burn that plow!

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Don’t let anything keep you from following God. Don’t miss out on that next step, that next season of health and new beginnings!  You don’t have to understand fully in order to obey immediately. And remember, Those that God uses the most, are those who hold on to the least!

Recommended: How do I hear God’s voice?

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Karl Penn 1 Fort McKinley Campus Lead Pastor

Karl Penn
Lead Pastor | Ginghamsburg Fort McKinley Campus