Bigger Hands

June 24, 2017

There are bigger hands at work here.

There is more to this than we can see.

As we travel on today and draw closer to our destination in the suburbs of Detroit, I know that there are a lot of parents and loved ones at home a little anxious about the admittedly dangerous reputation of the city we’re going to serve.

To be sure, the reputation comes from observable reality, but we’re not exactly street preaching on the legendary 8 Mile Road. But it’s a hard place. It’s a place with a lot of darkness and in desperate need of the penetrating light of the gospel of grace.

As we were making our final preparations for this adventure, a brother (thanks Steve!) shared this observation with me that has developed into this post.

He reminded me of one of my favorite accounts in the Scriptures—that of Elisha and his servant and a startling morning discovery. I encourage you to go and read it in 2 Kings 6.
The king of Syria had grown weary of his attack plans being fooled by someone warning his target, the king of Israel, of his plans. After searching his ranks for a spy, someone pointed out to him that there was a prophet of God that was warning the king of Israel of his evil plans. This dangerous king immediately sent an army to bring back that troublesome prophet, Elisha.

Elisha’s servant awoke early one morning and stepped outside to the terrifying sight of the entire city of Dothan surrounded by the Syrian army. Yes, the absurdity of sending an entire army after one prophet is significant, but the response of Elisha’s servant was understandable. He immediately did what most of us would do (and what some of us have indeed done when we thought about sending out kids to Detroit) – he freaked out.

Elisha, the prophet, who had a great and unique connection with God, said something strange to his servant:

He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6.16)

But as soon as he spoke these calming words to his servant, he prayed for him:

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” (2 Kinds 6.17a)

Then God answered… and WOW what an answer…

…So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6.17b)

I am convinced that there is a spiritual reality around us to which only God can open our eyes. There are too many instances in Scripture that point to such things for me to ignore it and I am just spiritually aware enough to know that my understanding is limited and utterly incapable of fully comprehending all that God is doing around us.

As my buddy Steve well observed, God did not need a fiery army to protect his servant. He provided such and revealed it to him and his servant for their sake, not His own.

The story is fascinating, but it carries on with God striking the Syrian army with blindness at Elisha’s request and Elisha leading the blinded enemy army that had been sent to capture him right down to the capital and the king of Israel.

The king of Israel, recognizing the opportunity, at least has the sense to ask the prophet if he should eliminate this threat to his kingdom. Elisha gives counter-intuitive counsel:

“Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” (2 Kings 6.22b)

You see, because of the intervening hand of God, the evil intended upon His servant Elisha and the people of Israel was turned away. The great result is seen in verse 23:

So he prepared for the them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into he land of Israel.

And so we come to a place that is not particularly hospitable to the gospel that we proclaim. We come to set before them the Bread of Life and the springs of living water. And we trust that, having come in obedience and desiring to serve in obedience, our God is with us. As the great worship song reminds us, the God of angel armies is right here by my side.

There are bigger hands at work here.

There is more to this than we can see.

Father, open our eyes to see Your hand at work… and let us join in.

I’ve been praying for little girls for about 25 years.

You may know that I only had one daughter born to me, my One and Only SweetPea. But even before I had her, I was praying for little girls.

Four years ago today, the fulfillment of many of those prayers came to pass as my oldest son took vows to love and protect and provide for one of those little girls for whom I had been praying day after day for his entire life. You see, when you love your kids, you pray for the most important and powerful provisions for their lives.

As I look back on that day four years ago and wish Mickey and Jessica a happy anniversary, I remember a day just a few months later when we met another one of those little girls for whom we had been praying for so many years. We knew who she was when we met her and I believe it is because of the uncountable hours we had spent praying for who she would be and how she would grow and how passionately she would love Jesus.

Mickey and Jessica on their wedding day!

One month from yesterday, my Lion Heart will take a similar vow to pour out his life in sacrificial love for his precious Kathleen. Tori and I will sit on the front row and see that beautiful girl walk the aisle and make that boy with the biggest smile and over-the-top hugs absolutely melt with her very appearance at his side.

These precious little girls, all grown up into beautiful, godly young ladies, have added such depth and love to our family that overflows with rowdy, messy, boisterous love. They just seem to belong. Perhaps it’s because of the ways we have prayed for them over and over and over again for all of these many years.

Of course, you may be wondering if we were really doing all that praying for someone we did not even know. I was out for a walk a few days ago, thinking, praying, reflecting, when the soundtrack in my brain pulled up a song I had not heard in many years. It sounds just as cheesy and 80s-ish as you might imagine, but I remembered the many moments over the years that I have watched these growing boys and wondered where that little girl for them might be.

I encourage you to give it a listen.

Those words so often worn out in Proverbs 31 ring out:

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

To my two oldest sons I must simply say, well done. You’ve found her – now love her well.

To my two newest daughters, know that I have loved and prayed for you far longer than you have known my son and I am so immensely grateful for you.

To the rest of my sons, run to Jesus… that’s where you’ll find her.

We have all probably had those moment when we were anticipating the arrival of someone special to us, someone we love or admire very deeply. I know I have many times.

Father, I long for that day when, just like Jesus rose from the grave, I will rise from this sin-cursed and death-riddled world to be with You forever. What a joyous hope!