I wanted to offer you a taste of what we will be discussing in Bible Study on Tuesday with another scripture from 2 Kings. Our theme on Tuesday will be: What it means when we can’t do things for ourselves. So between now and then, you are invited to read the scripture below and a few words from me.
2 Kings 4:8-17(commonenglishbible.org)
One day Elisha went to Shunem. A rich woman lived there. She urged him to eat something, so whenever he passed by, he would stop in to eat some food. She said to her husband, “Look, I know that he is a holy man of God and he passes by regularly. Let’s make a small room on the roof. We’ll set up a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp for him there. Then when he comes to us, he can stay there.”
So one day Elisha came there, headed to the room on the roof, and lay down. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call this Shunammite woman.” Gehazi called her, and she stood before him. Elisha then said to Gehazi, “Say to her, ‘Look, you’ve gone to all this trouble for us. What can I do for you? Is there anything I can say on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?’”
She said, “I’m content to live at home with my own people.”
Elisha asked, “So what can be done for her?”
Gehazi said, “Well, she doesn’t have a son, and her husband is old.”
Elisha said, “Call her.” So Gehazi called her, and she stood at the door. Elisha said, “About this time next year, you will be holding a son in your arms.”
But she said, “No, man of God, sir; don’t lie to your servant.”
But the woman conceived and gave birth to a son at about the same time the next year. This was what Elisha had promised her.
Elisha comes by and, just on his own accord, wants to help her. He seems to want to “pay her back” for her hospitality, but the woman won’t hear of it. She tells Elisha (who is also often referred to as ‘the man of God’) that she needs no more wealth or power. Apparently she has all that she needs. Elisha keeps ‘sniffing around,’ though, doesn’t he? He wants to do something nice and realizes that he could use his powers to give them the gift of a child.
If you read my journal entry (online we call it a ‘blog’), you will know that I’ve been struggling with what it means to have physical limitations. I think that many of us can relate to this woman of Shunem. I think that, young or old, many of us find times in our lives when we become painfully aware that our bodies, minds or spirits just won’t let us do the things that we would really like most.
In fact, how does this woman respond to Elisha when he tells her of the gift he has planned?
She replies, “No, my Lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant.”
This is a woman who is resigned to her fate of having no male heir. She is a woman who is very aware of her bodily limitations and those of her husband. If you are a resident of Evenglow reading this in preparation for Tuesday, then I have no doubt that you would respond the very same way to such a bizarre promise, wouldn’t you?
The funny thing about us humans is that we often don’t want to talk about our own limitations, even when we are convinced of them. We want to ignore that there are things we can’t do for ourselves. I don’t know if it is pride, hope, or simply stubbornness. For my part: the other night I tried to get up and go to the bathroom without my walker because I thought, “I can do this and I don’t need help from Carrie,” but instead found myself fallen on the floor, still waking her up, because I physically couldn’t do it on my own.
The woman of this story is well aware of her problems. She probably didn’t appreciate having them thrown in her face, especially since she doesn’t really believe Elisha is going to be able to follow through. She tells him that the last thing she needs is to get a false sense of hope! She knows that she and her husband’s physical bodies are not capable of producing a son. She is aware and resigned.
Yet, it is about one year later that she conceived and bore a son just as Elisha has declared. Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our problems. Sometimes we are reluctant to accept offers of help. Most often, we simply don’t believe that there is help available to us.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a messiah and I’m certainly no Elisha, but I don’t think it takes the supernatural force of a great prophet or the physical presence of Jesus in sandals to do Holy works in this world.
When God formed communities of Hebrew peoples; when Christ commissioned and sent out the disciples; when the Holy Spirit came upon the new Christian-Jews at Pentecost something happened with humanity. I believe that God does touch and heal in very real ways today. This week as we prepare for Bible Study, let us be pondering a couple of questions:
- When have I needed something that I couldn’t do for myself?
- How do I respond when people offer me help?
- Do I have people around me who may be waiting for my help –or waiting for me to accept their help?
Tuesday Bible Study(Evenglow Lodge Chapel)
Join Us In-Person
For Bible Study at the Evenglow Chapel
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 at 1:30 p.m!
We will look at 2 Kings chapter 5 as we discuss
another person who needed help from Elisha!