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Strike The Ground With Your Best

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2 Kings 13:14-19 Now when Elisha had fallen sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash king of Israel went down to him and wept before him, crying, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!"

(18) And he said, "Take the arrows," and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground with them." And he struck three times and stopped. (19) Then the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had made an end of it, but now you will strike down Syria only three times."

Why was Elisha angry?  It doesn’t make much sense when you quickly read over this passage, but if you meditate on it a bit, you get a better understanding of what we really going on.   Joash who was not known for following God got scared facing the fact that Elisha was going to die.  I would have say, that Joash, who was the king, saw the power of God at work through Elisha, a power that he did not have.  He might have been thinking that once Elisha goes, so goes the power.  He turns inside out with fear and cries Elisha in fear of losing his kingdom.   Elisha gives him instructions and he follows them, but out of fear and not faith.  Joash didn’t react in faith as Elisha wanted him to react.  This is what angered Elisha.  Is it really fair that Elisha was angry with Joash for not striking the ground more?  Did he tell him to strike the ground a certain amount of times?  NO, so how is that fair?  When the king was instructed to strike the ground, he was not told how many times to strike the ground, but he was told to take them all and strike the ground.  Now we picture the king striking the ground with the arrows in his hand, but this is not really what was happen.  First he was told to shoot out the window and he did, and now he is told to strike the ground and that meant shoot the arrows at the ground.  The wording that Elisha used, paraphrased by me, “take the rest of the arrows and shoot them all at the ground!”  Now we see why the old dying prophet was so angry with him.  Joash shot only three of the arrows that were left.  He did have faith.  He knew what the arrows represented because after the first arrow shot Elisha explained it equated to victory over Syria.   Joash didn’t have the expectant faith that Elisha was looking for him to have and the effort that Joash put into these instructions was only given half heartedly.  He wasn’t going to give his best and so without words was communicating that this exercise was not a big deal.   He could have complete victory if he would had faith and taken seriously what Elisha instructed him to do.   The result of his efforts and his attitude closed to door to God best. 

This is a reminder to me of how important it is to see what God is looking for behind what he is asking.  Sometimes God gives me direction, not so much because he wants me to arrive at a particular destination, but for the reason of testing my heart to see if I will give him my best effort or believe with unreserved faith.   When God communicates something to me, it not just about obeying even thought this is essential in my Christian walk, it is more about my attitude and the effort I put out in faith .  Will I believe and act because of obedience or will I please God by acting in faith.  Will I believe for his best and give everything I have to see what He wants happen.  Joash’s lack of faith stood in the way of what God really wanted to do.  I don’t want my heart to trying and limit what God wants to do in my or through me.   Joash should have shot the entire collection of remaining arrows at the ground.  I don’t want to be known for my lack of faith.  Lack of faith in action would be not give all that I can,  because I stopped short of my best effort.  It would like giving a little less then my best when I prepare a message; a little less than my best when I plan a evangelist outreach; a little less than my best when I spend time with my boys; stopping short of given my best effort when I prepare a paper for a class; a little less than my best as walk past the trash in the my home or God’s  sanctuary; a little less than my best when I stop short from confronting someone about an area of their life that is out alignment with God; a little less than my best when I am courteous but not courageous with talking to the people at Martial Arts and Starbucks that God has purposely put in my path to share his story; a little less than my best when I give up on someone who I could do a little bit more for; a little less than my best when I decide to stop praying for a miracles in an impossible situation, because I have prayed ninety nine prayers.    All these would be like striking the ground with only some of the arrows instead of believing and striking with all.

Lord, forgive me for the times in my life, where you gave me an instruction and I just did it, but I didn’t give you my best.  Sometimes I find I treat you like my Dad who asked me take out the trash.  I just do it, but my attitude stunk.  I am sorry God for not giving you my best when I needed to.   You are worthy of my best and nothing less!  Holy Spirit be my reminder and my empowerer so that I can experience you best all that you want me to do in the way you want me to do it.   In Jesus name, amen!

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