Moral to the Story

Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might, for in the grave where you are going there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.  Ecclesiastes 9:10.

 

For me the moral to this story isn’t about breaking the arrows or following the rules but showing passion in the instructions God gives us.  If we are endowed with a gift, we should be using it to its potential not wavering in the closets or playing wallflowers at the dance.  But it takes perseverance and determination to follow any path.

I thought a lot about Jehoash and Elisha, wondering what the lesson was we should take from such a text.  Several examples came to mind that I’d like to share.

Jeremiah was told from the get go that if he wavered or gave in to his fear, that fear would rule him.  In other words, he was to speak the hard stuff without fear or backing down in anyway.  God wanted the message strong and uncompromising.  Yet there was no evidence of the truth of it in world around him to support his conclusions or predictions.

He was basically alone in his role, with very few standing in his corner publicly or privately, leaving him the sole voice of God.  I don’t know if I could stand the rejection, to be honest, because I can barely handle any now.  It seems to me that Jeremiah had to be a voice of dissent in a world mad with conformity.  His job was to predict doom and gloom when the popular voices were predicting success and happiness.  That’s not a comfortable place to be in.

Isaiah went around naked and barefoot for three years as a testimony to Judah of the impending doom awaiting them if they didn’t repent.  (See Isaiah 20)  If you want to know what this man had to go through to do this, then read the law’s instructions on nakedness and you’ll get a sense of what a testimony this was while being a test of Isaiah’s confidence in God.

But this isn’t all.

These men had to know God spoke to them, communicated directly with them and believe without a shadow of hesitation that this was His will or they wouldn’t have.  I’ve often wondered how they knew God’s voice.  I mean, we have the Bible to give us clues into the voice of God but how did these guys confirm this without something empirical to back them up?

I don’t know.  The only thing as a testament to the rightness of their position is history.  Still, this had to be a trial for them to put up or shut up in the midst of all the opposition.  From what I understand of Rabbinical history, Isaiah ended up being put into a hollow log and sawn in two by Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh.  It stands to reason the opposition was there all along for this to take place at all.

So what do we conclude from our story about Jehoash and Elisha?

First of all we need to follow God’s revelation in our abilities.  Jehoash was king, commander in chief and leader to the nation, so what he did either inspired or discouraged his nation.  The fact that he went for the party instead of righteousness lets us know the outcome of his choices ultimately left a mark on the nation which cost them lives and independence.  Unfortunately, he lacked either the character or fortitude to lead any kind of victory.

Second, grace always arrives in the place where we least expect mercy to show up.  I mean by that we get second chances to grow even though we’ve shown doubt, laziness, or a host of other undesirable attitudes in the past.  God is in the business of redemption not condemnation, therefore, so should we be.  If He’s willing to grow others into the image of His Son, Jesus, then we should be doubly so because we know what our failures have cost and the mercy He extended through grace to us despite them.

Last, but not least, we can move out in faith though we are weak.  This is where I am in areas of my life right now.  I find it hard to believe in myself or my abilities despite hard evidence to the contrary.  I know I can perform the socks off a song, but lack the confidence to believe I can build an audience.  God is not through with me—and never will be.  I’m way past the age the world considers a salable product (youth being the key factor) so I know that if I build an audience of any kind it will be by the grace of God.  Yet I still fear failure because…I don’t know exactly what the root issue is but I just do.  There are lots of reasons that are and are not valid but don’t hold any leverage next to His power.

At this point of my weakness, His strength gets to shine.

In another story about Elisha, early in his ministry as the main prophet for Israel, he encountered impossible odds.  Dothan is surrounded by Arameans, his servant goes out in the morning to see an army around him and becomes frightened.  Elisha’s reply will forever stay with me,  “Don’t be afraid,”  the prophet answered.  “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  2 Kings 6:16.  Then the prophet prayed and the servant’s spiritual eyes were opened to see a host of angels standing between the city and the invading army.

Do you see?  I sometimes don’t.  I fail my Master repeatedly and struggle to find my spiritual equilibrium in a world gone made with selfish ambition and pride of place over character and love.  I forget far too often that those with us are more than those who are with them.  I get sidetracked from the real battle for my soul onto issues that have nothing to do with reality.

C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Great Divorce” that heaven is the reality we are but the dream.  I take this to mean anything we dream for ourselves without Him at the helm, thus it is but a fantasy because all things are from Him, for Him and to Him.  Anything or anyone outside of His will is dreaming of self-actualization though never realizing it in its fullness.

The reality is we may lose by the world’s standards and be thought complete failures by those who seem to count, but the fruit of our lives, if our trees are planted in God’s orchard, will bear more than could be accounted for by natural means.  He will see to it that whatever seeds we plant yield far more than anyone could think or imagine.  Our puny efforts in Him find their ultimate fulfillment in His hands.  In our own strength we can’t break the arrows or even win the war, but through His power we become unbeatable in His will.

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2 Responses to “Moral to the Story”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    So many of us live from a mindset of scarcity and miss the abundant life God is willing to show us if only we’d let go of our own desires and let him lead us. This must be a total surrender of even what the word abundance means to us. Because God’s definition is more than financial, it’s about the gain we get in the service of others and that often could be why we fall short. We grow weary in the well-doing because it doesn’t make sense to us.

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