Summary: We can rise above our current crisis by opening up our eyes of faith.
“Faith-Full Living: Oh Say Can You See?”
Imagine tonight’s Super Bowl. Let’s say every play the Baltimore Ravens run is perfectly defended; therefore nothing works for them. It’s as if the Forty-Niners always know what’s coming. In fact, it’s obvious they do. John Harbaugh, of course, is furious. At half-time he corrals the team and asks who is leaking or signaling the plays to the opponent. One of the team members speaks up: “It’s not us. They have a super fan who is gifted in mental telepathy; he’s picking up what we say and telling them.” “Where is he?” queries the coach. “I want to find him so I can cut him out of the action.”
Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? But now you have some appreciation for the King of Aram, who was at war with Israel. Every time he set up a plan to attack the Israelites, Israel somehow knew and took preventive action. After questioning his troops he was told that there was a man of God, Elisha, who always knew. He was the guilty culprit. So the King set out to capture Elisha, to cut him out of the action. The next thing we know Elisha and his servant are surrounded. It is in the midst of this crisis that we are drawn into the life of Elisha. For we, too, know what it’s like to be in crisis, to be surrounded or overwhelmed by opposing forces. The Good News we find in today’s Scripture is that WE CAN RISE ABOVE OUR CURRENT CRISIS BY OPENING UP OUR EYES OF FAITH. The eyes of faith enable us to see new possibilities and move beyond our present difficulties. So the question before us is “How do we open up our eyes of faith?” Let’s go back to the story of Elisha.
At verse 15 we discover the first step in opening the eyes of faith we must CORRECT OUR PERSPECTIVE. “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh, my lord, what shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don't be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ It’s “What shall we do?” versus “Do not fear.” THE TWO RESPONSES TO CRISIS ARE FEAR OR FAITH. Panic versus peace. Remember God’s promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:1): “Do not be afraid...I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abraham’s God was Elisha’s God. God never changes. So it has always been. When Hezekiah rallied the people in the face of another enemy he said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the King of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” It was Paul who wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
This PERSPECTIVE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN WHAT WE SEE. Have you ever changed the lens on your camera – to get a broader focus, or perhaps a closer focus? You wanted a different perspective of the scene. The lens determines what you see. We’re going to put a few objects on the screen, one by one – and I’ll ask you what you see.
(1) Is the book face-down? Or face-up?
(2) A Native American profile? Or an Eskimo entering a cave?
(3) A rabbit, looking right? Or a duck, looking left?
(4) How many legs does this elephant have?
(5) What word do you see? Good? Or evil?
(6) What word do you see? You? Or me?
Each of these optical illusions demonstrates perspective – when given a proper lens and focus, we see more than first meets the eye – we eventually see what is initially invisible. Similarly, Hannah Whitall Smith, in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, (1) points out that everything around us, anything that happens to us, can be either a tank to oppose us or a chariot to carry us to God; it all depends on what we do with it, on how we look at it. When faced with a crisis, DO YOU SEE TANKS TO DESTROY OR CHARIOTS TO CARRY YOU TO GOD? Do you see the visible or the invisible? Do you run from the tanks or hop on the chariot and ride into heavenly places in Christ Jesus?
When faced with temptation do you see the visible - fear of failure - or - the invisible - the opportunity to build a relationship with the One who has been tempted as we have yet without sin? When you face opposition, hatred, or ridicule do you see defeat or an opportunity to strengthen faith in the one from whom we can never be separated? When circumstances work against you do you dive into depression or see an opportunity to be conformed to the image of Christ? When you’re overwhelmed with and surrounded by the sin of your life do you wallow in guilt or see an opportunity to repent and release your sin and experience the grace of God? Do you see tanks or chariots?