A Survey (continued)
Elisha's Preparation in His Natural Vocation
That which will occupy us now is connected with the preliminary stage in Elisha's life, before he moved out into this full expression. There is always a preparatory stage, and a preparatory dealing with us on the part of the Lord.
The first time Elisha comes before our notice is very significant of what the Lord takes account of, when He puts His hand upon a man or a woman, to make such a vessel of His fuller Testimony. It is found in 1 Kings 19:19-21:
"So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed over unto him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee." And he said unto him, "God back again; for what have I done to thee?" And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him."
Here you have some features of a life upon which the Lord looks, or has already looked, with a view to bringing that life into relationship with Himself and His Testimony in a way of fullness. The characteristics of Elisha here are such as the Lord looks for in His would-be servants.
What Elijah found was a man of whom, by reason of his thoroughness in what he did, a note was made in the Divine records, which goes down through the ages. He was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. He was putting all his resources into the work. In his ordinary course of life he was not having anything in reserve. Twelve yoke of oxen represent the doing of things thoroughly; doing what your hands find to do with all your might. Oxen are types of strength in service, and, although Elisha was but in his ordinary natural vocation, in that there was no half-hearted measures. He was doing it with a downrightness that is taken account of. It may seem to be a very simple thing, but the Lord puts His workers on a probation to watch for that very thing. We may be waiting for the time when we shall be able to serve the Lord with all our might and main, and in the waiting time we may be reserving ourselves just a little along other lines. That can be put in different ways, but you may take it as settled that the Lord will never put you into a ministry of manifesting the power of His resurrection, of being of any special value to Him in His Testimony, if He has seen slothfulness in the ordinary walks of life, if He has observed any trace of half-heartedness in other directions. There is an infinite peril associated with waiting for what we call our life work. The waiting should be of a positive character, and during that time we should be in nothing less than a hundred percent energy in what there is about us to do.
This is a word of warning, and a word that we are constrained to give. It is not the sort of thing we like to say, and yet it is a word which those of us who have had time to observe, to watch the preparation of many lives for the work of the Lord, feel to be a necessary word. We mark how that the time before the Lord can visit a life and say, "Now the hour has come for you to move out into that for which I have prepared you," is a time that is so often marked by a lack of whole-hearted abandonment to the ordinary natural vocation; that the things which we call "natural" are put in a place second to the spiritual, and regarded as of less importance, and as calling therefore for much less diligence.
We need not increase words, but it is a thing for us all to guard very carefully. The Lord is watching in the ordinary vocations of life, in the things which we may regard as by no means of any great spiritual value, to see if in those very things we are diligent. We must remember that His own words are: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." That is a law; and faithfulness in that which is least is qualification for increase.
~ T. Austin-Sparks~
(continued with # 4)