Dear Friends, If you don’t have time to read the encouraging story below, the top-line is that we received our Thai Visas and will be arriving in Bangkok Saturday night, April 17th, to begin a two-week strict mandated quarantine. Praise God and please pray as we discuss below. But I do encourage you to read the following powerful story, a reflection on 2 Kings 6.
“Alas, master! It was borrowed!” 2 Kings 6:5
I love the quirky story of the borrowed axehead in 2 Kings 6. This hapless young prophet is the patron saint of all those who lose their keys or their rings and who pray to the LORD for their recovery. Does the creator God of the universe care about our lost keys? Apparently he does. Still, it is an odd miracle at a time when miracles were rare, even for Elisha. Many lepers remained lepers, many dead sons remained dead, and many lost things remained lost. But here, when Elisha makes the axehead float, God shows mercy to Elisha’s young padawan and gives hope to all of us who have avoided minor calamities when we call out to God for help to recover a lost item, however precious or mundane.
The remainder of 2 Kings 6 shows that often the work of God is unseen. The king of Aram, knowing that Elisha is his enemy’s secret weapon, sneaks up on him in the middle of the night with an overwhelming armed force. Elisha is calm when it appears, but his servant, responding using the exact same phrase as the trainee prophet in the previous story, cries out in alarm at the urgent threat facing them. “Alas, Master!”
Elisha remains calm because he knows he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. He is trusting in his Lord. So he can see the imposing heavenly army on his side and fears no threat. But it is surprising that, seeing the armies of the Lord, he doesn’t assume they are there to slaughter his enemies. Instead, his divine perspective gives him the courage to walk up to the opposing army and offer to lead them to the “man that they seek”. They are blinded by the Lord and go on with Elisha as he walks them right into the walls of Samaria, to be completely surrounded by Israel’s troops with weapons.
The king of Israel assumes that he should kill his enemy’s troops, as he has them in his power. But Elisha once again, knowing his team has the military advantage, does not assume that advantage is given in order to use it for death and destruction, but rather he teaches the king to use it to pursue peace: welcome the army, feast them as friends, and they will become so! And that is what they do.
Elisha is the main character in this story, but two characters can serve as models when we face overwhelming odds or confusing circumstances:
But the forces with us are greater than those against us. God can use the divergence of our plans to carry out His Plan, while we can only see the next step. We asked recently for prayer for our Thai visas, and we received them, amazingly since it seemed that the consulate was scrutinizing and demanding, signaling a decision to decline to issue them. So God has left the door open to move ahead, and we believe that we will not be ashamed or endangered, but led to friends we have not yet met. God’s purposes for us and plans for our ministry will unfold over time.
Rich and Lisa Lamb