Times of Searching

As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress.

Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River. He struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and cried out, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” Then the river divided, and Elisha went across. (2 Kings 2:11–14)

Self-denial does not come naturally. It is a learned virtue (often hard-learned), encouraged by few and modeled by even fewer, especially among those who are what we've come to know as Type A personalities. Prophets are notorious for exhibiting this temperament, which makes Elijah all the more remarkable. Without hedging in heroism, he was as soft clay in his Master's hands. As we saw earlier, he did his best work "under the shadow of the Almighty." His was a life of power, because he had come to the place where he welcomed the death of his own desires, even if it meant the greatest display of God's glory.

The place of beginning, the place of the prayer, the place of battle, the place of death. We, too, have such places in our lives.

First, there's a place of beginning. That's home base—the very beginning of our Christian experience when we are born anew. That's our place of new beginning. At our own Gilgal, we become brand new.

For some of us, that place of beginning, that home base, is far in the past. Search your memory. Can you remember when you took your first few baby steps? You tottered a little, and those who loved and mentored you helped steady you on your feet. And you learned the basics of life: how to get into the Word; how to pray; how to have time with God; how to share your faith.

And then comes the place of prayer. Remember? You first began to learn what it was to sacrifice, to surrender things dear and precious to you. For some it was a miscarriage or the loss of a child. For some it was the loss of a husband or wife. Perhaps for you it was the loss of a job, your own business, or a lifelong dream never to be realized. Coming all alone to your own Bethel, you learned to pray.

God did a real work in your life as He carried you from that place of communion to the next stage He planned for you. And because you'd learned the value of prayer, you built your altar, and you learned even more at His feet. Search back in time. Remember?

Self-denial is hard to learn, but it's worth the effort.

Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This

Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. www.harpercollinschristian.com

How It All Ends

See Revelation—and our Lord—like never before! On February 23, take a deep-dive with Pastor Chuck into the final book of the Bible. Chuck will explain difficult passages, blending truth and encouragement. You’ll be left in awe of our great and sovereign Lord!