Summary: When God opens our eyes to the truth of his promises, our frantic hearts calm.
Crash! “What was that?” you wonder as you’re startled awake by a loud noise and with a jolt. “Has one of the kids fallen down the stairs while sleepwalking? Is someone trying to break into the house?” You won’t know until you investigate. Only, you can’t find your glasses! Without them the world is a blur, and fuzzy eyes make for a frantic heart. Ah, here they are. Your glasses ended up under the bed somehow. Now with them on, you can see clearly the reason for the crash: no child has stumbled down the stairs, and no intruder is threatening your safety. You created the ruckus when you rolled out of bed and fell onto the floor! Nothing to worry about. Clear eyes have led to a calm heart.
Of course you don’t need to lose your glasses to experience a frantic heart. Parents have frantic hearts when their baby gets behind the wheel of a car for the first time. Children often have frantic hearts when Mom or Dad is late in returning home. Perhaps even right now something is making you feel a bit frantic so that you’re finding it hard to concentrate on this worship service. But that’s life isn’t it? We just have to get used to frantic hearts as long as we live in a frenzied world. Not so, say our Scripture readings this morning. In our Gospel lesson Jesus told his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:27a). Our sermon text from 2 Kings 6 illustrates how we can keep our hearts from being troubled. While fuzzy eyes lead to frantic hearts, clear eyes lead to calm hearts. Let’s see how that truth was illustrated in the life of the prophet Elisha who lived about 830 years before Jesus was born.
If you think you have reasons to be frantic, compare them to the problem the prophet Elisha was facing in our text. Word had reached the king of Aram that the reason none of his surprise attacks against Israel had been successful was because Elisha, with the help of God’s omniscience, kept telling the Israelite king where the Aramaeans were waiting in ambush. So when the King of Aram found out that Elisha was staying in the little town of Dothan, he sent his army to arrest him. Doesn’t that sound like overkill? Was a whole army necessary to arrest one hapless little prophet - like hunting a rabbit with a battalion of tanks? Actually, the Aramaean army was undermanned. Their fight, you see, was not with Elisha but with the Lord himself.
Elisha knew this but his servant did not. And so when the servant saw a sea of spears and countless chariots glinting in the early morning sun he was frantic and cried out to Elisha: “What shall we do!” (2 Kings 6:15b) Isn’t the servant’s reaction typical? When we’re faced with a challenge we immediately ask: “What shall we do?” But listen to Elisha’s response: “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). In other words there was nothing to be done, not even pray for help since God had already sent help. What Elisha wanted God to do now was to open his servant’s eyes so that he would see clearly the army of angels that surrounded them and appeared as fiery horses and chariots. Clear eyes would lead to a calm heart for the servant.
“Lord, open our eyes to your presence.” Have you noticed that’s also what we ask in the Lord’s Prayer? When we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread,” we’re not putting a coin in the heavenly vending machine to ensure we’ll have something to eat. What we’re really saying is, “Lord, open my eyes to the many blessings that you will and have given me today. And make me thankful for them!” Likewise when we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we’re not saying: “God, don’t tempt me to sin!” He doesn’t do that. With that petition we’re requesting: “Help me to see that you’re always with me so that when I am tempted I have your power to overcome sin.” Psalm 34:7 puts the truth of God’s abiding presence like this: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” God isn’t like the firefighter who can come to your rescue only after he has received a call for help. And by the time he arrives, it might be too late to save you. God is more like a secret service agent who never leaves the side of the President. Clear eyes see and believe this truth and it leads to a calm heart no matter what odds you face.