The Mantle of a Godly Man
By: Andy Oldham
Edward Lincoln Oldham had asked that all three of his sons preach his funeral. Following are the funeral/sermon notes given by Andy Oldham on March 27, 1994, in Baton Rouge, LA.
In looking back I remember that it was not so many years ago that Dad and Uncle John stood in this position to preach the funeral of their mother and my grandmother. I remember sitting where you are now, and thinking of how hard it must be for Dad to do this. I remember saying to myself, “I could never be this strong.” This was the first thought that entered my mind when Dad asked my brothers and me to speak at his funeral.
Last month when I was visiting he told me, that to preach Granny’s funeral was the hardest thing he had ever done. I asked him, where he got the strength to do it? My question seemed mindless when, in Dad’s true form, he answered with, “From the same place I get all my strength, from the Source.” Only Jesus can provide this kind of strength. He said, “I have already started praying for you and Bill & Dick. He knew, all three of us would need strength to preach this service.
So, the reason my two brothers and me are here today, is because my Dad prayed for us and God gives all that we ask in His name, and for His glory
When I was in college there was a humanistic philosophy circulating that asked a very simple question. While I do not necessarily agree with all of its line of thinking there is one thought that does give us something to ponder. This viewpoint asked “How long have you lived?” It was asking not for a tally of every minute that you have taken breath. Rather, how long in time have you produced a moment that is really worth keeping for all time? How significant is that moment and is it meaningful enough to keep throughout eternity?
You see, this philosophies foundation for asking such a question was that when we die we take those moments that we have truly lived into eternity. For it is in eternity that we share those moments with others. It is here we share with all the saints of God, and in turn share with us their special moments.
It has been said that a tree’s stature can best be measured when it has fallen. Once down, and lifeless, one can see every limb, every leaf, and every scar. Now that Dad has fallen I can begin to see more clearly and fully his stature and know that he has many “life moments” to share around the table in eternity. I can begin to see not just any man, not just any father, but a man of God and an oak of righteousness. Do you have moments of truly living for God to share in eternity? How about now, here, while you are alive on earth? Are you sharing them? Why not?
There were times in my life when I did not understand how Dad could keep going. When circumstance seemed to come against him and knock him down he would get right back up and keep going. Again, his strength would come from the Source — the One and only true and loving God. We can see this more clearly if we look at God’s Word. Let’s study the relationship between Elijah and Elisha.
Elisha was not Elijah’s son, but after twenty years of following and serving Elijah, Elisha looked to him as a father. As we read the Old Testament we begin to see that in serving Elijah, Elisha saw a man that at times was not very pleasant and did many things that Elisha did not understand.
Here is where I begin to understand why Dad remained passionately faithful to his call. Elisha did not understand the things that were happening, but he did not quit. Dad did not always understand circumstance, but he did not quit. Why? Because they both made a decision to follow God. They made a commitment to do what ever it took to persevere and follow the will of God.
As Paul later wrote, they looked “ . . . toward the high calling, and the reward.”
Dad was prepared day-by-day, trial-by-trial for a special service. You and I can never understand the full scope of his calling, for it is through this that we learn to have our own personal relationship with God. Each of us learns the scope of our own special calling—each is different.
Elisha knew that Elijah was about to leave him. Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything he could do for him before he left. Now understand that Elisha had seen Elijah perform many great miracles. Here was an opportunity for him to ask for anything he wanted.
But what did Elisha ask for? Let’s read II Kings 2:9 (ESV).
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”
Of all the things he could have asked for, he asked for a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. For twenty years he did not understand the things that Elijah did but remained faithful and remained committed. And now he asked for a double portion?
There is something about a man of God that makes others want that same anointing. Now lets read what happened afterward:
“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours — otherwise, it will not.” As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s mantle (cloak) that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle (cloak) that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. II Kings 2:10ff.
Profoundly Powerful! Elisha received what he had asked for. God gave Elisha the same anointing, only double. WOW!
If you are a father, or even now a grandfather, what kind of a mantle will you leave behind? Will your children and grandchildren recognize it as a gift of the Almighty God? Will they be willing to pick it up? Will they wear it to glorify God? Or, will they leave it alone? Will they want a double portion of your anointing, or will they go a different way?
For forty years Dad told me how much he missed his dad, Papa. He said he looked forward to seeing him someday. But he also said the first thing he wanted to do was see Jesus. He had lots of questions he wanted answered and then he would spend eternity with Papa and Grannie.
I understand, now, what it means to miss my dad the way he did Papa. Now I know that after I have my questions answered I can look forward to seeing Dad again, too. It is now that I so profoundly realize that even though Dad did not have a lot of earthly things to leave me. Instead he gave me something of much greater value ¾ a mantle for his great-grandchildren.
Elijah was taken away, but he left something behind. He left a mantle. He left a double portion of the anointing.
Elisha had to make a decision. He could either pick it up, or he could leave it and walk away. He bent over and picked it up, “…and when he had struck the waters, they were divided, here and there; and Elisha crossed over.”
Wow! Elisha did not understand the anointing for twenty years. And now, because of his faithfulness and commitment he received for what he had asked. He now had a double portion of what he had previously not fully understood.
He is something for you to think about and search your heart for the answer:
Do you have that portion? Is it something others are following? Do they want the same anointing because of what they have seen in the way you serve God? Are you ready to release it to another should you be called home?
My father! My father!
I miss you! I will see you soon!
Andy Oldham is the founder and co-creator of Christian Grandfather Magazine. He received his B.A. in religious studies and education from Anderson University. He has served as pastor to senior adults, and fills pulpits when needed. Andy taught memoir classes at the local library and after writing his personal memoirs wrote Everlasting Cronies, a story of growing up in rural Louisiana. His column in the Northside Sun Newspaper was well received by his community. A poem, Winters Grace has been honored by the Mississippi Poetry Society. He and his wife, Barbara, have six grandchildren and enjoy retirement in Madison, Mississippi.