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Journeying to Spiritual Fitness - Lessons from the Word (3)
A Journey of Faith and Obedience.
Having passed another year in my life recently I'm no more reflective than any other days. I think it's because I'm always trying to evaluate my efforts. I've learned though that I shouldn't spend too much time on evaluation (I tend to "over think" something), but take the best, understand the worst and move on, keeping God and His Word in focus as the basis of evaluation.
It's not easy to "let go and let God" as the popular saying goes. There are so many things in the world that bombards my senses and infiltrates my thoughts, even my own training and education has taught me to be very logical and reasoning. However the only reasoning that works with God is that because He said it, I should believe it, and that should be all to it!
The Reading: 2 Kings 4-5
The prophet Elisha is now in full fledged ministry having inherited a double portion of the Spirit that was on Elijah. He begins formal ministry with several acts of compassion one towards a widow of a prophet, a well to do woman and finally a foreigner.
As God directs Elisha he comes across a wealthy Shunammite woman who invites the prophet to a meal. In his journeys, Elisha frequently passes by the woman's home and eventually she persuades her husband to build a room so the prophet can rest in the course of their journeys. The scripture says she does this because "she perceives" Elisha is a man of God. In response to her kindness God blesses her through the prophet.
Additionally, in the following chapter, Elisha is sought out by Naaman a high ranking soldier in Syria. Naaman hears of the prophet through his wife who in turn comes into knowledge of Elisha by an Israeli maid servant, and, under her urging, journeys to Samaria to meet Elisha, in the hope he will be healed of leprosy.
I couldn't help but be drawn to the account of the Shunammite woman. She was through and through a kind and selfless person. Everything she did for Elisha was done solely out of respect for the man of God and it is clear that she and her husband revered God. In no area of the scripture was there even a hint that she desired anything for herself. The account I must admit, almost brought me to tears because of the honesty, openness and genuine nature of this woman that was so moving it deserved particular mention in the passages of 2 Kings.
- Serve God because He is God - The Shunammite didn't ask anything for herself she sought only to make the man of God comfortable one may argue that she thought he may repay her kindness but it is clear that the woman had no revealed desires and, being well to do, obviously had no financial need. Her example pricks at me because I wonder how much of my servitude depends on who God is rather than what He can do for me. Serving God shouldn't be about what I can get but rather what He deserves. Even so, in His love and faithfulness He showers me with His blessings because He knows my deepest desires and my most persistent needs. I'm reminded that serving God in this way, is a testimony of faith because I essentially declare my reverence for who He is because of who He says he is.
- Look for ways to be a blessing to those who blessed you - Elisha was a great man of God and great miracles, were performed through him but even he was stumped when it came to something he could do for the Shunammite to repay all her kindness. She didn't ask anything of him only that he accept her hospitality. Even with this limitation, Elisha was adamant that something had to be done for her so he reached out to Gehaazi for assistance and, with keen observation, Gehaazi was able to reveal an obvious desire in the Shunammite's life - a child. Similarly I need to look for ways that I can be a blessing to those who have been a blessing to me. Taking a more careful look at the situations that surround me will undoubtedly help me determine where my efforts can be most beneficial.
- God grants the desires of the faithful - He always is, really, and He's not going to hold back and fulfilling those that are in alignment with His will. Even though the Shunammite may have repressed her desire for a child,God used the prophet and His servant to pull revive and fulfill that desire in her life. What a great reward God gave her for her faithfulness. It was especially sweet seeing she was even expecting anything in return - she thought the man of God was joking! I need only to trust in God and do what is right in His eyes whatever I need, whatever my desires, if I trust and obey Him I can be confident they will be supplied so there's no need for me to concern myself with these things.
- Trust God to overwhelm your situations - A lot of times we get overwhelmed by our situations but not so with the Shunammite. When her child died, she didn't cry, she didn't mourn or contemplate her course of action. No she immediately put him in the prophet's room, saddled a donkey and went to meet him. She went... personally and I can only imagine how dangerous it must have been for her to be travelling alone. She was very determined in her decisions. When she met with Elisha God hadn't even revealed the pain she had. Why was that I ask myself? Is it because whatever turmoil she may had brewing in her was completely subjected to her faith in what God could do through the prophet? She knew she would get back her son and she wasn't willing to leave until her son was revived. What faith! What importunity! And she didn't want substitutes either. Even though Elisha sent Gehaazi, somehow she knew that Elisha was the man for the job so she never left his side. This is how God wants me to approach Him in our times of need and distress. Too easily I simply accept the situation before me letting it engulf me with sadness, anger, worry or some other form of distress and instead of overwhelmingly applying faith I let my faith be overwhelmed.
- Position is nothing, God is everything - This thought comes from the account with Naaman. Now a lot of times we focus on Naaman but. I'd like to look at two other people that contributed to this miracle actually being performed. The maid who spoke about God's prophet, Elisha, to Naaman's wife and Naaman's servant who encouraged him to dip in the muddy waters of Jordan to receive his healing. I take from this that it doesn't matter what position you are in, God can use you to accomplish mighty things. I think about what this man Naaman, an obviously respected and honored man in his own land, must have said about the God of Israel to his countrymen. In my own life, I can't let my position before men taint my expectations of how God can use me to bring His will to pass.
God, help me to recognize that just the opportunity to serve You is itself a great reward and be thankful for that privilege. Even so Lord, I'm also thankful that You are concerned about my needs and desires and will additionally reward my faithfulness to You. Open my eyes, Lord to help me see the ways I can be a blessing to those around me. Lord, show me where my faith lacks, that through it you may overwhelm my problems and not the other way around.