There is a time to pass on. Not in the sense of dying, but of encouraging someone else to take up my vision, step into my ministry, assume my responsibility and move it forward. Better to willingly and happily throw my mantle onto a successor like Elijah did for Elisha, than to come to the place where the Lord removes me from my position and I go kicking and screaming off center stage.
That doesn't come easily but it comes inevitably for those of us living on the summit of life, especially when someone else takes over and everything is obviously going so well without us. It may come when we are laid aside by illness, retirement, physical or mental weakness or inability, or otherwise stepping out of the picture. Somehow we don't expect the sun to shine as brightly or the days to go as well. Secretly, we may not want others to manage capably without our oversight. How can they walk so competently in our shoes the minute we take them off?
We may be accustomed to view ourselves as the center of our particular universe, the hub of our family's wheel, the indispensable one at work or in our ministry or at church. Others have flattered us by reinforcing our essential image,“I don't know how we can ever do without you.” Famous last words, not to be believed.
I am in danger if I try to wear permanently a self-important mask of pride. I naturally thrive on adulation, but Scripture cautions me not to hold an exaggerated opinion of myself. Puffiness indicates both a physical and spiritual unhealthy condition. Sitting on the sidelines, as I must increasingly do in my advancing years, shouldn't take away my self-esteem, just cut it down to normal size. God is showing me that I can't be the leading player forever.
I should realistically look at myself as dispensable. The places I occupied so competently seem to close up behind me when filled by others. Scripture says it takes everyone to make the Body of Christ complete. All have different functions and gifts. It will always be someone else's turn. If people continue to depend totally on me in any aspect of life, it may stunt their emotional, mental, and surely spiritual growth and effectiveness for God. We are all frail, mortal, and terminal in the sense of not being able to play any role in life permanently. Each of us is God's special instrument or channel. I am unique and important to the Lord, but not indispensable.
With joy I should throw my mantle upon others and encourage and cheer for the ones whom God designates should wear it—even or especially when they, like Elisha, receive a double portion of God's grace and power.
Who am I to think that I'm the hub
around which the world turns
and all spokes lead to me?
God is not obliged to work
through my earthen vessel
my created lump of clay
with numbered days and faltering ways.
Without me, Lord, life would go right on
The world would still turn
and You could run the universe.
Without me, Lord, those who lean on my arm
could walk by themselves
and be kept from harm.
Yet I am amazed that You stoop to choose
and sovereignly use
this human trifle that I am
as an instrument to do Your will!
Lord, cause me to understand
and in humility
still offer You my availability.