Here are some signs that you might be a geezer: If you own a heating pad and always keep it in your favorite chair, you might be a geezer. When your phone confuses you and your first thought is “I need a young person to help me,” you might be a geezer. If you yearn for the good old days, you might be a geezer.
That last one probably qualifies us all as geezers. Most of us idealize a past time when things were right: Prices were right. Music was right. The world was right. Most people idealize their young adult years as the benchmark of the way things should be. That golden age constitutes our worldview of what is best. And whatever your idealized era is, standards have definitely slipped: “Children today love luxury and they’re lazy. Young people disrespect their elders; they mock their parents; and they tyrannize their teachers.” So said Socrates 2,400 years ago.
Nostalgia is constant, but it heightens during times of accelerated change. Like today. We want things to be like they were. And if you have faith, change makes you wonder about God.
It’s easy to see the hand of God in the world when things are stable; when reality matches our expectations. But with things changing so fast that we don’t know what to expect, it’s harder to see what God is doing. It’s sometimes hard to believe that God is doing anything. Especially when our heroes depart.
Like the World War II generation – the Greatest Generation. They are almost gone. They saved the world. They fought to save democracy. They tried to create a better world for us. And now it’s up to us to pick up their mantle and do the same for our children. Will we be able to?
That’s the question in this scripture. Elijah, the greatest of all the prophets, is leaving. Next up is his successor Elisha, who asks the question many of us have: Where is the Lord?
After Elijah ascends to heaven, Elisha is left with Elijah’s mantle. But having a cape doesn’t make you a superhero. Repeating Elijah’s action of using the rolled up cape to part the Jordan, Elisha towel snaps the Jordan, asking: “Where is the Lord?”
And the waters parted – not because Elisha was worthy; not because his action was perfect; not because his faith was pure – but because God is good. God is worthy; God’s action is right; and God’s faithfulness is from generation to generation. That’s why we can trust God to be who God is supposed to be and do what God is supposed to do.
N.T. Wright says this about being faithful when challenged: “Acknowledge the difficulties; say your prayers; and get on with it.” Trust that God will make the way as you make the effort. And as you do, don’t pine for the past. Instead be grateful for it and move on into the future, trusting that God is at work to make it good as well.
We don’t have to fear tomorrow because God is already there. And we don’t have to be afraid that we are not up to the task because God will help us. Always has. Always will. But God’s help changes. God often has a better way to bless us that feels weird at first, but that will be wonderful as we live into it with trust and hope.
Elisha became a mighty prophet. But he did that by being himself – not by trying to be Elijah. Instead of looking back to Elijah’s past glories, Elisha looked forward and lived into future blessings.
We can, too. In all of our difficulties. God is ready to help us grow, change, and prevail. We just need to focus not on our anxieties, but on the Almighty. Yes, we have challenges, but we also have Christ. And we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us. We are more than conquerors through him who loves us. Who became like us so that we might become like him. So that we could conquer not through the love of power, but through the power of love. Not so that we can win and everyone else can lose, but so that we can all cross the finish line together.
We can have that hope and live into that future because Jesus Christ is risen today. If Jesus Christ conquered the grave, then surely he can conquer everything else: Your fears, the future, your life, this world — all of it shall be shaped by him into a new creation of love, justice, and peace.
We have that future before us. Our Savior is alive. We have a story to tell and a song to sing. God’s kingdom is among us. God’s new day is at hand. Where is the Lord? Right here with you.