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Lent 2011

Be the Breath of God

Day 35

By Deaconess Ann Janzen, Asheville, N.C.

When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, "Oh, my head, my head!" The father said to his servant, "Carry him to his mother." He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, "Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again." He said, "Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath." She said, "It will be all right." Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, "Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you." So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, "Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?" She answered, "It is all right." When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, "Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me." Then she said, "Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?" He said to Gehazi, "Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child." Then the mother of the child said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you." So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, "The child has not awakened." When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, "Call the Shunammite woman." So he called her. When she came to him, he said, "Take your son." She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.

—2 Kings 4:18-37


What a wonderful story this is! The story of Elisha and the rich woman from Shunem is a story of faith and devotion, of the miracle of unlikely birth and the ultimate catastrophe of the death of her precious child. A greater miracle occurs when Elisha lies down on the boy's body, "placing his mouth, eyes and hands on the boy's mouth, eyes and hands. As he lay stretched out over the boy, the boy's body started to get warm."

Gracious God, help us breathe your life into this often dead world and so make it your kin-dom.

Elisha repeated the warming process a second time, and the boy sneezed seven times, then opened his eyes. His mother "fell at Elisha's feet with her face touching the ground; then she took her son and left."

Elisha, lying on the body of the boy, had become a channel for the breath of life, the breath of God, to enter the boy's body and to restore him to life. So are you and I, so are all Christians called to bring new life into God's world by being channels for the breath of God. As we open our hearts to become ever more aware of God's presence in our lives, we will be led to find new ways of sharing the miracle of this gracious presence.

Paul, who framed the early church with his letters, wrote often of this "grace," this ultimate gift of unearned love that God waits eagerly to share with us. "You are saved by God's grace!" he thunders. Paul knew from his own experience that the good he had done while he was trying to earn a way into God's kingdom could not take him there. He also knew that his zeal in persecuting Christians would not make it impossible for him to find a way into the kingdom—when God opened the door for him.

Paul takes his stand as the flag bearer of the early church. God brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things we did that were wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us.

Miracles and grace. God is good!

Prayer

Gracious God, help us breathe your life into this often dead world and so make it your kin-dom. Amen.

Last Updated: 04/05/2014
 
 

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