“Once when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he took counsel with his officers. He said, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Take care not to pass this place, because the Arameans are going down there.” The king of Israel sent word to the place of which the man of God spoke. More than once or twice he warned such a place so that it was on the alert. The mind of the king of Aram was greatly perturbed because of this; he called his officers and said to them, “Now tell me who among us sides with the king of Israel?” Then one of his officers said, “No one, my lord king. It is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.”
He said, “Go and find where he is; I will send and seize him.” He was told, “He is in Dothan.” So he sent horses and chariots there and a great army; they came by night, and surrounded the city. When an attendant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. His servant said, “Alas, master! What shall we do?” He replied, “Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.” Then Elisha prayed: “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. When the Arameans came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, please, with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samaria. As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.” The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” He answered, “No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.” (2 Kings 6:8-23)
I hadn’t remembered this particular story about Elisha - “the man of God” - until it popped up as one of the readings in the Daily Office Lectionary today. Perhaps you can tell by the title of this meditation which part of the story jumped out at me. It starts in verse 16, when Elisha tells his servant not to be afraid, because “there are more of us than there are of them.” I love verse 17, too. Elisha could see what his servant could not, so he prayed, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant, and he saw that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
I would say that this is one of the key issues in life… one of the key issues in the spiritual life we have with God. We don’t often see things! And therefore, we miss a lot. Well, probably I should speak for myself. I miss a lot! I miss a lot of things that God wants me to see.
Here are some of the things that I don’t see (at one time or another):
- I don’t see things about myself, things that others do see. (We call these blindspots.)
- I often just see others in a very superficial way. I don’t see what another person has gone through, or what that person is going through currently. (Learning how to ask questions can help with this one.)
- When I too readily agree with others’ opinions of things (it could be their opinions about snakes or a particular book or movie, for example), or others’ opinions of a person or a whole group of people, rather than evaluating the thing or getting to know someone for myself, I often miss the beauty and the goodness that is right in front of me.
- I can easily miss the spiritual beings (angels, chariots of fire?, etc.) that are surrounding me.
- Along that same line, I often don’t see the work of the Spirit - all the ways that God is protecting us, providing for us, blessing us (Including all the times that God brings good out of disasters, or out of the bad intentions of others - see, e.g., Genesis, chapters 37, 39-50, and the crucifixion of Jesus)
- I don’t always see the opportunities God is putting before me.
- I don’t see/acknowledge what can be accomplished through prayer (Review what happened when Elisha prayed, in verses 17, 18, and 20)
- I don’t see that I can actually defuse tense situations, rather than escalating them, when I do the kinds of things that Jesus taught us to do, such as loving my enemies (See Elisha’s advice that the King of Israel should feed the Aramean army in verse 22 above, and what happened after the king did this.)
So… HOW can we see more clearly? We can have a desire to see more clearly, for one thing. I think that means having an open heart, and includes praying to God. “O Lord, open the eyes of my heart. Open our eyes as a church. Help me… help us… to see what you want us to see!”
I suppose we could go from there to also pray that God would open our ears, that we might hear, and that God would transform our hearts, that we would love others as Jesus loves us.
The transformation begins to happen once I acknowledge that I am blind to a lot of things. Or it begins when someone who truly cares about me prays for me and my vision, or speaks to me about some way that I am blind, and I am open to receiving that feedback. The transformation begins to happen because God wants us to see something, and God acts.
“So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he [she] saw…”