Then I heard a loud voice
shouting across the heavens,
“It has come at last—
salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Christ…
God’s given me seven steps to becoming a worthless person. The directions are pretty straightforward—and if I follow them, they’re guaranteed to bring me some wildly unpredictable out-of-this-world results…
“They have planted the wind
and will harvest the whirlwind…
First, I have to block out new information; which means I should never ever read the personal words God inspired specifically for me. Because if I do, I might accidentally hear what he’s saying and then I might possibly understand it. And who needs all the guilt that could create? Surely my own thinking is good enough—and I probably already know it all anyway.
Second, the more stubborn I choose to be, the better the plan’s going to work for me. If I don’t budge in my thinking, there’s no possible way change can ever happen to me.
Third, if I follow everybody else, I can be in the majority; and I won’t even have to waste time thinking for myself. What could possibly require less energy or go wrong with that?
Fourth, I can boost the effectiveness of step three, if I worry incessantly over what other people think about me.
Fifth, I can live my life exactly as I want and base all my decisions on my feelings. That day. That moment. Sacrifice, boundaries, and standards are probably overrated commodities anyway.
Sixth, I need to value and trust the things I can see, touch, and control instead of the invisible Creator who made and holds them. And I should never ever be gracious about relinquishing what wasn’t mine in the first place.
Seventh, I need to be first. Always. People around me shouldn’t be bothered if I need to sacrifice them on my altar of convenience. Otherwise, how can I possibly be happy?
But the Israelites would not listen.
They were as stubborn as their ancestors
who had refused to believe
in the Lord their God.
They rejected his decrees
and the covenant he had made
with their ancestors,
and they despised all his warnings.
They worshiped worthless idols,
so they became worthless themselves.
They followed the example
of the nations around them,
disobeying the Lord’s command
not to imitate them.
They rejected all the commands
of the Lord their God
and made two calves from metal.
They set up an Asherah pole
and worshiped Baal
and all the forces of heaven.
They even sacrificed
their own sons and daughters in the fire.
They consulted fortune-tellers
and practiced sorcery
and sold themselves to evil,
arousing the Lord’s anger.
2 Kings 17: 14-17
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.”
(2 Kings 8:1)
The woman of Shumen followed good advice; and after the famine was over, brought her family back home and then went to see the king about reclaiming her house and land.
As she came in,
the king was talking with Gehazi,
the servant of the man of God.
The king had just said,
“Tell me some stories
about the great things Elisha has done.”
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!”
“Here is the woman now,
and this is her son—
the very one Elisha brought back to life!”
(2 Kings 8:4-5)
“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 8:6)
Not many of our life stories could begin the way this one did, but they could all finish up the same way.
Because the Lord God, Maker of heaven and earth, Redeemer of all people, and the One whose throne room I enter every time I pray, has said…
“Then I will make up to you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the creeping locust,
the stripping locust
and the gnawing locust,
my great army which I sent among you…”