Wednesday, May 8, 2013

SERVANTHOOD, Prayer & Fasting, Day 10

One day Elisha went to the town of Shunem. A wealthy woman lived there, and she urged him to come to her home for a meal. After that, whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for something to eat. (2 Kings 4:8 NLT)

In this wonderful story of the Shunammite woman, we find important traits that we should have active if we want to access the types of blessings that were in her life. These blessings and miracles occurred strictly because she put herself in the role of a SERVANT.

The first thing we notice about this woman is that she was wealthy. The King James Version uses the phrase, "great woman," to mean she was above average, not poor in material or financial means. Its interesting to note that the scripture takes a rare turn from its usual manner of approaching gender and does not describe this Shunammite as, "the wife of a wealthy man." I am not a feminist, nor do I seek to step out of my God ordained role of female-under-authority. But I point this out because when the scripture bypasses its pattern, we should figure out why.

I believe it's because her behavior of SERVICE put her in the dimension we find in the New Testament; "There is neither male nor female, Jew or Greek, bond or free..." Of COURSE genders, nationalities, and other roles exist. But when it comes to WHO God is limited to use, there is NOTHING of our societies' culture, traditional rules, or mindset of upbringing that limits who God will use in any role that we choose to SERVE in.

I think it was likely because of this woman's fearlessness, because of her initiative and drive, because she was a hard working, Proverbs31-woman that their family was blessed to this degree in the first place. I believe that's why scripture gave her the prominence. She was this story's writer, therefore she got her name on the cover. However, since that's an imaginative, "I think..." Let's look at what I KNOW.

I KNOW that the principle of, "if you're faithful with that which is little, he'll make you ruler over much," is very visible in her behavior.

Her first action as a SERVANT was to invite the man of God  into her home for a meal. Then he came for more and more meals. She didn't have a guest room to offer him. She offered him what she DID have. (It is in this that we glimpse her "get 'er done" nature.) Remember, she was a wealthy woman who had servants of her own. She chose to be a SERVANT to Elisha. She chose to use her means to SERVE him.

She said to her husband, “I am sure this man who stops in from time to time is a holy man of God. Let’s build a small room for him on the roof and furnish it with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then he will have a place to stay whenever he comes by.” (2 Kings 4:9, 10 NLT)

This Shunammite woman went to the next step and altered her home for the purpose of serving the man of God. We see the wisdom she employed by taking this relationship step-by-step, and we see the level of commitment to SERVANTHOOD progressing as well. First, it was just the time and expense of a meal when he was passing through. But after that meal was over, she still had her home in its state of privacy. During the "meal only stage," her level of involvement was a few hours periodically. But a GUEST ROOM?!

Have you ever been in a situation where guests were involved? I have my entire life, and it's never easy! The way you dress is altered, your sleep habits are altered, the workload before and after their arrival is increased, the expense is increased, etc. All of these things and more wear on your mind, body and emotions. It doesn't matter how much you love and enjoy them, "Glad to see 'em come, glad to see 'em go" is REALITY!

But we find this wealthy woman going to this next level of service anyway. This was a level of service that went beyond a blow-up mattress. There was intense labor and a lot of expense in going to this level of SERVANTHOOD.

When you read the rest of 2Kings chapter 4, you find the extended blessings that came to her for her service. She was blessed with a son. When the son had an unexpected health problem and died, God brought him back to life by the hand of this man she chose to serve.

Elisha had told the woman whose son he had brought back to life, “Take your family and move to some other place, for the Lord has called for a famine on Israel that will last for seven years.” So the woman did as the man of God instructed. She took her family and settled in the land of the Philistines for seven years. (2 Kings 8:1, 2 NLT)

Because she placed herself in the position to SERVE Elisha, when the man of God heard "inside info" from Jehovah, she ALSO heard. This woman might not have been "super spiritual" in the way Elisha was, she wasn't called to the same giftings, nor to hold the same role. But because she SERVED him, she knew what he knew. Servants ALWAYS know more than non-servants. This information saved her and her family's life.

After the famine ended she returned from the land of the Philistines, and she went to see the king about getting back her house and land. And Gehazi was telling the king about the time Elisha had brought a boy back to life. At that very moment, the mother of the boy walked in to make her appeal to the king about her house and land. “Look, my lord the king!” Gehazi exclaimed. “Here is the woman now, and this is her son—the very one Elisha brought back to life!” “Is this true?” the king asked her. And she told him the story. So he directed one of his officials to see that everything she had lost was restored to her, including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence. (2 Kings 8:3, 5, 6 NLT)

Did you read that recovery?! Wow! "Including the value of any crops that had been harvested during her absence!" All of this is tied directly to her choosing to, and putting herself in the position to be a SERVANT.

Take note, all we know of her life are these highlights in scripture. We don't know the hours involved. We don't know when she had aches and pains. We don't know how stressful this made balancing the budget. We don't know anything about her emotions. (She was a WOMAN. Therefore she had em!) And when she left her beloved home for seven years, (SEVEN YEARS!!) we don't know how good, bad, or ugly that situation was for her.

Being a SERVANT doesn't mean your life will be perfect. But it means when perfection comes to the served, you'll be the first to partake!

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