July 10, 2019

July 10, 2019

July 10, 2019
2 Kings 6:1-7
by Carole Martin
Clergy of Rock Springs UMC (Kingsport, TN)
Appalachian District

Elisha, prophet of God, had a thriving ministry. So much so, they were outgrowing their current location.  They began constructing a new place near the Jordan River.  The workers were busily making it happen, when disaster struck.  An axe head broke off from the handle and landed in the water.  We could explore all manner of reasons why this should not have happened.  Perhaps the head wasn’t properly sharpened.  Perhaps the handle was fraying, but the worker was trying to get in a few more swings before taking care of it. Why it happened doesn’t really matter.  The axe head broke off from the handle and sank like a rock into the water.  Worse, it was a borrowed axe!  Now what?

In that day and time, an axe head would have been a precious possession.  It would have meant the ability of earning a day’s income because the worker had the proper tool.  There was little possibility of repaying the owner for such a valuable resource.  How would the worker explain to the owner that his axe was lost? Instead, he went to Elisha and told him what had happened.  Elisha asked him to show where it sank beneath the surface, whereupon Elisha threw a piece of wood into the water, and the axe head rose to the surface.  The man’s borrowed property was restored.  He could fashion a new handle, and continue his work.

A woman I knew had a job – low wages, but it was a job.  She drove to work in an older car, in poor condition, on which she was still making payments.  The car broke down, and she had to decide how, out of her limited resources, to make the payment, cover the repair costs, and still figure out how to get to work.  We could debate the reasons why she had a junker car, or why it wasn’t in good running order.  We could blame the woman for her plight.  And, she bears part of the responsibility for choices.  She was in an abusive relationship.  She had a young child.  She had used payday lending and had no realistic way to get out from under its grip.  And now, she couldn’t even get to work without help from somewhere.  Where was her Elisha?

Elisha could have fashioned a new axe head for the worker.  Elisha could have berated the worker for his carelessness.  Instead, we are astonished along with the worker as the impossible happens – iron floated!  The axe head is retrieved and dignity is restored.  But we aren’t told what the worker did next. Did he repair the handle and get back to work?  Did he lose the axe head in the water again? Did he buy his own axe?  We don’t ever find out.

How could the church help this woman find hope?  We assisted with the repairs and with rides until the car was back in working order.  We could have purchased a more reliable car. All of these are temporary fixes at best.  But that doesn’t get to the root of her problems, even if it did allow her to continue working.  We tried to get her longer lasting help to get her out of the bind she was in.  But she moved away, and we lost touch.  Sometimes, we can be part of something that makes an immediate difference in someone’s life.  Sometimes solutions require a God-sized answer, one that is beyond our ability to even imagine.  Sometimes, through prayer and working together, a new possibility will emerge that hadn’t been visible before.  Sometimes, the axe head floats.  And sometimes, we may help find a new axe.