I’m enjoying reading of Elisha’s life from his call to ministry in 1 Kings 19, until his death, recorded in 2 Kings 13. He is not as well known as his mentor Elijah, but those chapters are rich in stories that reveal his character and the surprising patience and power of God.
When Elisha was first called to become a prophet, he was insecure and overwhelmed by the expectations Elijah and God placed in him. Elisha refused Elijah’s request to stay behind while the older prophet went to be with God. He would not allow Elijah out of his sight. He got even more upset when God sent messengers who predicted the imminent departure of his mentor. When the inevitable separation finally came, Elisha begged God to give him an even greater blessing than He had given Elijah.
Fast forward to the end of Elisha’s life, and we discover he has become a confident prophet whose wisdom and blessing were desired by his king. What happened to cause that transformation is called “Life.” God used the events of Elisha’s life to reshape and mature him for useful service. Life has a way of doing that … IF we remain teachable. (And that’s a big “IF.”)
My friends know I’m not inexperienced when it comes to home rehab projects. Over Memorial weekend Carol decided it was time for “us” to replace the vinyl floor in the laundry room. Now to my way of thinking, the vinyl floor had done nothing to deserve her disrespect. It was doing an adequate job of laying there. Oh sure, the seam where the main floor connected to the closet was starting to curl a little, and the original color was turning yellow, but hey, who wouldn’t after ten years of laying in the sun? Besides, there was a perfectly good door there! If those minor flaws were upsetting, we could always close the door. J Buddy the dog didn’t seem to mind, and he ate his dinner there every night.
But it was decided. The floor would have to be replaced with some form of ceramic tile, preferably of the earth-tone variety. Like most rehab projects, it seem perfectly easy in theory. But, before the tile could be laid, the baseboards would have to be carefully removed so they could be reinstalled later. The washer and dryer would have to be disconnected and stored in the garage, and the existing vinyl floor would have to be removed along with the underlayment to which it was glued. That’s when the plot began to thicken. What takes words to describe, took hours to accomplish.
The baseboards were cut to allow the sliding closet doors to cozy up to the wall and to accommodate the dryer vent, but the new tile floor height rendered those cuts useless. A new baseboard would be needed. Have you ever tried to match existing baseboards to baseboards ten years old? Then there was the problem of the existing floor. Not even Hercules could have peeled the existing vinyl floor away from the underlayment to which it was glued. Fortunately, the underlayment was not glued to the subfloor but the worker who stapled it in place was no minimalist. It took a wrecking bar and a prayer vigil to uncover the subfloor and make it receptive to the tile-backer. But, not even those obstructions were the most challenging part of the project.
All clothes washers are connected by means of hoses to a hot-and-cold water supply box that includes a drain for the machine’s spin cycle. Unfortunately, the shut-offs for my connections had nylon valves that were frozen in the “open” position. The handles turned but the valves did not, so when the hoses were disconnected, pressurized water erupted from the wall. J In order to remove the washer, the water supply for the entire house had to be turned off and the open lines sealed. If I had recorded the event I might have won $10k on America’s Funniest Home Videos. But in retrospect, I wasn’t laughing at the time.
Life is like that. You have a plan that is clear, concise and reasonable. But as soon as you move towards your preferred future, SURPRISE! Life happens.
Someone said, “You can curse the darkness or turn on a light.” You can work through the plot twists that stand between you and your preferred future, or you can take a defeatist attitude and keep your vinyl-floor-life. Who cares that the seams are curling and the once bright surface is turning a bit yellow? The dog likes it just fine.
Let’s face it, life is hard even when times are good, and times aren’t often good. Elisha embraced the plot twists of his life. In fact the plot twists of his life were used to turn an insecure, fearful man into a confident and capable prophet. God won’t patronize you. He expects us to exercise faith as we embrace life’s difficulties. When Jesus asked His followers to “take up their cross and follow Him,” He was not kidding. Sacrifice is a part of being faithful and required of all the faithful.
But Elisha was not ask to go it alone. God granted him a “double-portion” of Elijah’s spirit. A friend of mine signs all her emails with the thought, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called.” (BTW…. The floor in our laundry room turned out just awesome, and two new brass valves now control the water flow to the washing machine. The Bibles says, “It is through much hardship that we enter into the kingdom!” Amen to that.)
“I (Paul) know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians, chapter 4
- If someone asked, what lesson in life has experience taught you recently?
- What season are you in; abundance or scarcity?
- What important is faith in God in handling the setbacks of life?
How have the plot twists in your life shaped you?
A. I feel stronger and closer to God because of them.
B. They got me down for a bit…I’m stumbling.
C. I have no idea how this story is going to end
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Gracious Lord Jesus; I am so thankful that you walked the earth and experienced first-hand the emotions I experience. You, too, know the blessings of good times and the hardships of struggle. Through it all, You remained steadfast and focused on the greater meaning of life. You never allowed the praises of people to turn your head and “make you their king.” Neither did you permit the gossip and criticism of others to drive you to despair and resentment. Breathe Your spirit into my soul. Enable me to continue my walk with optimism and eager expectation about my future and Your partnership in life. As You were patient with Elisha, be patient with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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- Celebrate with us on the Fourth of July!
- Just a reminder, Children’s Ministry is on break during July. Our nursery rooms will remain staffed for your infants and toddlers
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14
(and to lower my golf score)
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