Slave to Expectations

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As we continue in the life of Elisha, one of Israel’s greatest prophets, we have seen him transform from a simple farmer to being called to something greater. He burnt the plows that might have beckoned him back to his comfortable life and instead began being used by God—changing the course of a nation, and today he changes the course of a desperate widow who was beginning to see life as a dirty trick with no remedy or cure. Today in our text from 2 Kings 4:1-7, we find a widow who feels like a…

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Slave to Expectations ( 2 Kings 4:1) The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha,(If you’ve spent a lot of time around seminary students you will find out money is flowing very freely. It wasn’t rare in married student housing  to find a couch out by the dumpster one day and then proudly displayed by another couple the next or a card table used for a dinner table.)  “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” No plea for help just a statement of desperation! Proverbs was right (22:7) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. The law allowed for Hebrews to be sold or to sell themselves as a way to pay off their debt. God intended it to be temporary and help transport people beyond humble beginnings or big mistakes.  What was established to be a way out of bondage, through loopholes in the law inflicted bondage on the weakest and most vulnerable. Losing possessions is one thing, but that is nothing in comparison to the panic of watching her two sons become slaves. While people ignored God’s expectations to care for the widows and orphans, to limit the number of years in service, to bless those who served under you,  you can almost hear the familiar refrain: “It’s just business as usual!” Just what everyone expected. At 19 Sarah was living in Springfield, IL, life on track: a bf she cared about, on her way towards a college degree in a major she was excited about when suddenly a positive pregnancy test threw her life into a tail spin.  Instantly the expectations started to rain down! Her boyfriend’s message was loud and clear- an abortion or we are done! Her parent’s was similar- we will give you money for an abortion but we won’t let you live with us if you have this baby. Focus on school and your future, not this baby. So she took the money from her parents and started off towards Bloomington, and you have to love IL–she ran into road construction. Finally, after getting stressed and tired, she decided an abortion wasn’t something she wanted to do. She returned home and for a couple of weeks kept a secret that was growing by the day. Finally when she told her parents—they kicked her out of the house.  Without a job, without a place to stay, without any family support—she felt like she had no where to turn, only a dead end in front of her.

False expectations are nothing new to us. Teen Moms comes out on MTV and some feel like it is an expectation to be sexual active before you’re married. Maybe you wrestle with the expectation that you can be perfect and it slowly breaks you down each time you fail. Some fail to see anything beyond the expectations of their hometown, family’s reputations. We each wrestle with the long list of expectations in our life- some expressed others subconsciously–we can feel stuck, trapped and out of options, but the Apostle Paul calls us to be mindful of something greater instead of a mindless slaves to expectation saying, “Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.”  SAINT BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX described a life beyond slavery to a sinful world: “God wants us to be victors, not victims; to grow, not grovel; to soar; not sink; to overcome, not to be overwhelmed.” We don’t know where the greater life in God is going to take us, but as Elisha is about to point out, it starts right where you are at and  it begins with exactly what you have!

 

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