The prophet Jeremiah recounts some of the amazing achievements of Elijah’s protégé, Elisha, in II Kings 6:1-4. Elisha healed Naaman, the Syrian, of leprosy, he restored life to the son of the Shunamite woman, and clairvoyantly listened to the plans of the King of Aram and communicated those plans back to the King of Israel so that Israel could avoid several military disasters. For all the miraculous achievements Elisha has accomplished, a little-known story found in II Kings offers encouragement for all those facing desperate situations. In this account, one of Elisha’s students is chopping wood with a borrowed ax. The iron axe head flies off the handle, falls into the water and sinks. Elisha’s servant is frantic because what has been lost is a borrowed item. Calmly, Elisha asked the young man to point to where the ax had fallen in the water and sank. God used Elisha to bring the ax head to the surface by throwing a stick in the area where it sank. The ax head floated to the top of the stream where the young man was able to grab it.
Elisha’s story is an encouragement to any facing seemingly impossible circumstances. Every summer our congregation faces the challenge of reduced offerings. This year is particularly difficult because of the new covenant we had to establish as a part of the refinancing of our church mortgage. This story of Elisha reminds us that even when circumstances pose serious challenges, we must never allow problems to cause us to lose faith. Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” When we face hurdles and obstacles, we never face them alone. We have so much for which to be thankful. Psalm 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Over the years, Shiloh has lost a number of stalwart members through death, yet, we continue to experience a revival of the spirit. Through the leadership of Nicole Lamb-Hale and Antonio McLaren, we are reimagining Shiloh to face the new realities of the 21st Century. We will develop ways and means to secure state-of-the-art technology and use a variety of methods to creatively communicate God’s Word through Bible study, evangelism, and outreach. With the excellent leadership of our deacons, we have begun and will continue to connect with our new neighbors and businesses. Through the wise administration of our trustees, we are managing resources carefully and prudently.
Churches often refer to the summer months as the slump months. Attendance tends to fall off, there are gaps in communication and planning, and churches tend to experience the dreaded summertime giving slump. However, God has blessed us inordinately. We will roll up our sleeves and meet and exceed our summer goals in all ways. Elisha shows us the way. With the power of faith, we can and will make the iron swim.