I read a passage of scripture a while back, and while I’m several chapters past it in my daily devotion, it keeps coming to mind. See what you think.
2 Kings 4:1-7
1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves. 2 And Elisha said to her, What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house? And she said, Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.3 Then he said, Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside. 5So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, Bring me another vessel. And he said to her, There is not another. Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.
I frankly got little from the passage when I first read it, and it would have been easy to have put my Bible away and hoped for a more immediately applicable study the next day. Thankfully, however, it’s gnawed at me. There’s something here for me, so I can’t let it go.
Thing is, so often, we can read a passage of scripture and walk away with as little as we started. This is particularly true is the passage seems dry and irrelevant. We hurry and finish reading it and think, “Well, I’m not sure what that meant;” it sounds silly to say that aloud or in text, but that’s how we operate, and then we leave it there! Maybe we’ve ran out of time because we got distracted, or we didn’t allot enough time to study to begin with. Whatever the case, time’s up, and we’ve got to go.
And with that, we close our Bible’s without giving that passage that seemed void of personal application any further consideration. But, you see, God included it in His Word with purpose. There’s something there! There always is. We just have to be faithful to dig it out.
Where was God in the passage?
What was He doing?
Who was He dealing with?
What were they doing?
I’ve made some observations about the scripture in line with those types of questions. Check out what I’ve got…
- The woman had a need: she needed money for the creditor who would take away her children as slaves if she didn’t pay up (verse 1).
- She inquired of the Lord through Elisha (verse 1).
- Something in her home (the jar of oil) was used to meet her need (verse 2).
- The vessels used to help supply her need were from others (verse 3).
- Elisha told the woman not to borrow “too few” vessels (verse3).
- He also told her to “shut the door behind yourself” (verse 4).
- The lord filled all the borrowed vessels, giving the family enough oil to sell and pay debtors AND to live on afterward.
What do I do with that? Does anything pop out to you? I’ve got a few ideas that I’ll hit in a moment. The point I’m making here is that I mustn’t stop at mere observation or simple reading. Otherwise, I’m relegating a portion of the inspired Word of God to the junk mail pile. In practice I’m saying that perhaps not all of God’s Word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Just because a passage doesn’t specifically say, “This is the will of the Lord,” doesn’t mean that it isn’t revealed. There are lessons to be learned from the lives of those recorded. Is there something to learn about honestly talking to God (prayer, unloading our burdens, being vulnerable before Him because He sees through us and loves us anyway)? Is there something to glean about dealing with people (edifying words, patience, forgiveness, quality communication)? How about our finances and surrounding ourselves with things that tie us more to this world? How about the way a person plans his or her life without even considering what God wants for his or her life? I could go on, but I think you get it. These types of lessons are often the toughest to dig out, and yet they’re often the most readily applicable. That bears repeating.
Lessons from the actions and lives of people named in scripture are often the toughest to dig out, and yet they’re often the most readily applicable.
Such lessons are sometime difficult to dig out because it doesn’t say anywhere “and the Lord said,” or “Therefore, do…” or “because of this, don’t…” We have to dig out the precept through observation, allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us; this requires THINKING about the passage, asking questions of it, and not merely reading it. However, the great thing is, BECAUSE IT’S FROM ANOTHER PERSON’S LIFE, the lesson is actually readily applicable; we either foster the beliefs or repeat the actions of the spiritual person, or we choose to do differently than the carnal (saved but acting lost) or the natural (lost) person depicted in the passage scripture.
Do I have the passage above figured out completely? No way! But I’m working on it. Here’s what I’ve got so far: 1) Take problems to the Lord (don’t just try to make something happen on my own); 2) OBEY (especially when it doesn’t make sense, seeing as I don’t have the big picture); and 3) EXPECT the Lord to come through mightily!
ou might think the first too are no brainers. Theoretically they are! However, we demonstrate that we truly believe it by WAITING on the Lord. In my last devotion, I wrote about the horrible mess we can get ourselves into by just going out and making moves without considering God. Do I look at Him as my only hope? My last chance? If I do, I’ll be willing to do whatever He says. I haven’t got it perfectly figured out; I’m still growing too, but that’s the point—growing.
The last part, though…EXPECTING great things from God. This isn’t the “name it and claim it” nonsense. God owes me nothing; it’s I who owe Him everything. The observation I made is that, according to Elisha’s warning about not getting too few vessels, the woman could have limited God’s provision. She could’ve only borrowed a couple of Rubbermaids, and only the sandwich size ones (you know the ones I’m talking about), and the oil would have stopped flowing sooner. In fact, I’m convinced that had she gotten many more containers from her neighbors, she would have wound up with even more oil.
The question I ask myself is, do I only expect small things from the Lord, and as a result, only take tiny steps of faithful obedience? I know it would help me be more on His page each day! I would be actively looking for His activity in my home, my work, my church, and especially in myself. I know that by expecting little from the Lord squashes an vision in my life, and by “vision” I mean a preferred future on which I believe God wants me to partner with Him on to accomplish. Would I see things that I ordinarily view as mundane and insignificant like all of my random everyday interactions as vital opportunities to partner with God? I could go on about how not limiting God with low expectations could affect my life, but I’m trying to stay on track.
Don’t abandon a passage of scripture or breeze through it in order to get to the following, more savory passage just because it’s dry or confusing. Chew on it! DIG! God’s Word is alive, and every bit of it has something for you. And never forget, as a Holy Spirit indwelt believer, you’ve got what it takes to dive deeply into the Word. Give Him a chance to teach you (John 14:26). Enjoy!