November 5, 2007 Ration

II Kings 13:18-19

“Then [Elisha] said, ‘Take the arrows,’ and [Joash] took them. And he said to the king of Israel, ‘Strike the ground,’ and he struck it three times and stopped. So the man of God was angry with him and said, ‘You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times.’”

What was Elisha angered with? That is the question that I want to push on. King Joash followed all his directions. It seems clear that Joash was obedient in that he was only told to “strike the ground,” and that he did, three times even. So it must be something other than disobedience that angered Elisha. Artists, are there ways to technically comply or obey and yet still fall short in some way?

Have you ever heard the counsel, “When your boss asks you to jump, on your way up you ask, ‘How high?’” That wisdom must have come from reading the account of Joash. When, in faithful humility, you ask “how high” while you are already in the air, you demonstrate that the boss’s orders are worthy by leaving the ground immediately, and you demonstrate your desire that he, and you, obtain all that he is seeking by not coming down until he says, “that’s high enough.” There is a sense of zeal that is shown, a readiness, a declaration of unwavering belief in the one who bids, an evidence of the scope of your faith when you hand over the setting of the parameters to the one who gives the commands. A master takes great pleasure in this kind of servant. This servant will enjoy the special might and pleasure of his master. Might Joash be demonstrating here, unbeknown to him, a maturity of faith that falls short of what Elisha knows God to be deserving of and what a king of God’s people should possess?

There is a feeble faith that cannot hear the omnipotently deafening whispers of God. When God presents a test, a feeble faith does not hear Him say, “Prepare yourself to enjoy the unparalleled glory that I am preparing to show!” A feeble faith may know enough to run to God for deliverance, as Joash did, but when before His throne in petition, it does not ask of God according to the ability of God, it asks according to the math of its mind.

When Elisha said “strike,” what did Joash hear? Does strike mean “slap” or does strike mean “pulverize” or “decimate” or “annihilate”? It can mean them all, so how does God, through Elisha, mean it here? This is why we must listen and act in faith in the ability of God as we seek to discern the will of God. How do you hear “strike” if you are charged with being the king of God’s people? How we hear it depends upon whom we believe will do the effectual playing out of the striking, us or God. So our action will be the measurement of our true faith.

Artists, will you see and enjoy the full portion of the greatness of God by merely technically following His directions, or is there more involved than that? How do you follow his directions? Do you follow them on the grounds of faith in what God has accomplished, is able to accomplish, and might be pleased to accomplish? Is there a greater pleasure of God to experience that we forfeit due to not being primed with faith in what He bids us to do? May we never, because of a feeble faith, forfeit the pleasure of a complete flexing of the might of God in our life's toil. And may we never error in the other direction, in presumption, by telling God what He is to accomplish for us. God cannot be summoned! Rather, let’s put on Shadrach’s faith and say, “The ability of God is not in question, so I will zealously plead according to His might! Yet He is God, His will be done, and I will delight to do His will.”

Approach your labors in the arts, artists, with great faith in the ability of God to accomplish all that He inspires and bids you to do. You do not need to know what God plans to do, you just need to declare your faith in His ability to do beyond what you can think or imagine, and then play the man with all the might He has put in you. When God says, “Strike!” prove yourself to be faithful to His bidding by striking until you hear Him say, “Enough!”

Jason Harms


© 2007 The Gaius Project