Seeing More Clearly in 2020
This year's reading is from the book of 2 Kings, chapter 6. The king of Aram, upon discovering that Elisha the prophet of God is anticipating and thwarting all his planned attacks on the Israelites, sends troops to Dothan to capture the prophet.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. After they entered the city, Elisha said, “LORD, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the LORD opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.At the end of one year and the beginning of the next, it can be helpful to take stock of things, to step back from the day to day and get a fuller sense of where things stand for you. To do so requires a kind of seeing—not simply seeing by sight but seeing by faith. In this story we find Elisha leading his servant and his captives into a fuller view of things. He prays for his servant: “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see,” and the servant suddenly sees armies of angels, guarding them against the real challenges they are facing. He prays for his captives, whom God has struck blind, after the danger has passed: “Open their eyes, LORD, so that they may see.” And God restores their sight, so that they may learn that they have been taken captive, that their power is no match for the power of God. They are fed and sent home, and they learn that Almighty God doesn’t wield power capriciously. And—and this is a pretty funny punchline to the story if you think about it—“the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” They saw things as they really are, and they got the message. To see clearly with the eyes of faith is a liberating experience. No wonder Jesus healed so many blind people; no wonder Jesus castigated the powerful for their spiritual blindness. When we don’t see clearly, we act out of fear, and we take desperate measures to secure our safety: We fight or take flight. When we don’t see clearly, we scramble for what we can see, doing violence to one another, seeking others’ harm in service to our own purposes. When we see clearly with eyes of faith, we can lay those acts of desperation aside. We can react to stress and foreboding circumstances with a sense of calm, even confidence. We can call on the power of God and trust his creativity to bring good outcomes to our circumstances. We can offer our enemies a feast and send them home unharmed. We can live out our callings unhindered. We can live by faith because we can see by faith.