Big Plans: Cutting Down Trees

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You probably don’t have to struggle too hard to go back to where you went from everything seemingly perfect to falling flat, from well planned to a painful episode. Maybe it is a career trajectory that took a nose dive, a divorce left your wave after wave of friendship lost at sea, or one mistake which leaves you fighting to get back your reputation. Today, we are going to face the wobbling cake moments head on as we continue in our sermon series GREATER THINGS as we look at 2 Kings 6:1-7. We’ve been following the miraculous moments in Elisha’s ministry- as he has confronted false gods, half-hardheartedness, a lack of faith, and today we go from our wreckage to God’s divine recovery plan. Even when it seems impossible.

We don’t oftentimes start off wobbling, we start off with…

BIG PLANS: Cutting Down Trees (2 Kings 6:1-4) The company of the prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.” And he said, “Go.” Then one of them said, “Won’t you please come with your servants?” “I will,” Elisha replied. And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees.The vision is bred from necessity. Elisha’s running a school for young prophets, and as his prominence grows, so does the class size, and as the class size grows, so do the close quarters. The vision isn’t a short-term fix, they don’t say let’s just meet outside while the weather is nice, instead they start building for the future.  The plan is to build a residence—a dormitory and meeting hall. Not only do they have a vision of growth, a plan to grow, but they also proceed to bring about growth—cutting down trees!  It is great to have a plan, but if the blueprints sit in your office for 20 years, they are a complete waste!

Down in Louisiana a roadwork crew received the call to relieve another crew that had been digging a trench along a rural road. The foreman who had been there all day gave the new workers the task of carving out a ditch four feet deep and thirty feet long. An hour later, a neat trench had been dug. The foreman then told them to fill it in. Several yards down the road he instructed them to begin digging another trench, and after 2 hours, the ditch was completed, and the foreman asked them to fill it back up. Again they repeated this process, each time the time expanding. Finally after nearly 10 hours of digging, and being told to fill in the hole, mutiny nearly ensued.  It dawned on the foreman that he had forgotten to tell the crew why they had been called to this task. “Do you see that building over there?” asked the foreman, pointing across the road to an old rambling house a quarter-mile away. {That’s an orphanage. Sixty children live there. Apparently, there a crack in the water line that runs under this road and supplies those kids. Runoff from this cow pasture has gotten into the line and is making children sick. Our job is to find that break and help those kids get well.” Thirty minutes later, a neat trench four feet deep and fifty feet long was finished. The water line was found. The break was repaired. Not a soul on that crew thought a drop of their sweat had been wasted at all.

Athens author Thucydidus  who wrote firsthand about the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece wrote,” The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” When vision is clear it is amazing what people can accomplish and when vision is lacking it is painful how things atrophy. Vision is essential– Proverbs 29:18 puts the contrast like this, “Where there is no vision (prophecy), the people perish…” In other words, when there isn’t a relationship between God and his people as mediated through his Spirit, there are problems.  It is like a student about to hit summer break, the freedom to do everything, but the follow-through to achieve nothing.It is activity without achievement.So at our church we envision being a church body rather than just a church building, where we are judged by transformed lives rather than our bottom line, where the outcast, outsider, and out of luck find the hope of Jesus Christ, welcomed in as a friend, equipped as a brother or sister, and transformed like a son or daughter of the Most High. That we would be united together by truth so thoroughly that we would surrender our pet-projects, our pride, and our preferences at the cross in order to find power that resurrects broken lives, where in response to receiving God’s perfect love we couldn’t help but serve in gratitude. Where young and old worship together, where we pray for diverse, deepening in discipleship, and dependence rather than just talk about them.


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