I have had a few close friends in my life, that upon their death, I knew there would be a void that would be hard to fill. They were people who had spoken the Word of God into my life and been significant in my spiritual journey. Some I had closure with, some I won’t be afforded closure until we meet in glory; on the other side of this tarnished world. For King Joash, Elisha had been a powerful source of encouragement in the battles he had lead. His death no doubt brought great anxiety into his life with the thought of not having a connection to God like that of Elisha. Elisha was a faithful, profitable prophet for the king and before he departed for Heaven he gave the King one last prophetic illustration that spoke to my heart this morning.
2 Kings 13
14Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. 15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. 16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. 17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed.19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.
The man of God wasn’t giving King Joash a lesson in archery, he was giving him a lesson in life. The arrow that was shot from the bow of Joash, was directed toward an enemy that the Lord had already written the end to their story. Joash would launch the attack, but the battle was clearly in God’s control. For too much of my life I’ve looked for victory in the strength of my own hands. Rather than taking a shot with clear direction I will randomly take my bow in hand and hope that I’d hit a target. I’m not even sure I’m shooting in the right direction. As Joash, a skilled warrior, allowed Elisha’s hand to guide his, he was humbling himself to the God’s divine course of path for the arrow. He shot, God directed.
There has to be some aim and effort on the part of God’s children for His purpose to be met. Oh, there have been times in my life when God clearly did it all from start to finish. Perhaps I was too weak, or merely too to incompetent to get it done. But for the most part, God has always had an expectation of some work on my part and then He gave me the skills to get it done and often times the mentors to walk me through.
After Elisha’s bow shooting lesson he ask the King to strike the arrows on the ground. Now… this is where I fail to understand God’s logic. That’s because He is so much wiser than I. Joash struck the arrow on the ground three times, and because of that he would only defeat the Syrians three times. Had he known that victories of war were at stake he would have likely beat the arrow until it was in pieces. But he didn’t know that and so he would suffer the cost. My first thought was, “I’m sure glad God doesn’t work that way today.” And then I reconsidered. Perhaps God does work that way today.
1 Corinthians 1:24-27
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
The world (and I) love to make God “understandable.” In that we can have faith when He asks us to do things outside our comfort zone. Like speak, sing and teach. Like King Joash, when God asked me to do part A, I stepped right up and humbled myself down to obedience. But then… He lays part B on me and perhaps a C or D. It was at those times that I began doing what God ask mediocrely. Because it just didn’t make sense and sometimes I just didn’t because it was too hard. When King Joash was ask to shoot the arrow that seemed so valiant! But striking an arrow on the ground… what would possibly be the purpose in that?
When my friend Dewey messages me on Sunday morning and asks me to pray as he drives five hours, one way to preach, Sunday after Sunday, then returns five hours back the same day, I think … “that’s crazy.” That’s hitting arrows on the ground crazy. Surely there is somebody else closer to Reserve, New Mexico that can preach that sermon. But who am I to question the blessing God for the people of Reserve who get to hear Dewey. Perhaps my ministry opportunities are not opening because I’m not striking arrows on the ground. Perhaps you have yet to realize your potential in whatever it is that God has called you to do because part B has yet to be fulfilled. It’s a point for me to ponder today…
Today I’m praying that God will open doors for me to sing or speak in Anytown, USA. I want broken arrows, not broken dreams. I covet your prayers, and God’s will only.