The Day Salvation Lay in the Hands of Disabled People (Ros' Blog)
There’s a story in the Old Testament that I’ve grown to love. In fact, if you’ve been to any of my training workshops you may well have heard me speak of it – I often try to shoe-horn it in somewhere during a workshop! The story is found in 2 Kings 6 and 7.
The city of Samaria had been under siege by the Aramean army for so long that the food had run out and people had even resorted to eating the corpses of the dead. A donkey’s head changed hands for the equivalent of about £400 in today’s money and 100g of seed pods for about £25.
In the midst of this disaster, God had a plan, and He revealed it to His prophet, Elisha: “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel (roughly £1 per kilo) and two seahs of barley for a shekel (about 50p per kilo) at the gate of Samaria.” Some of his hearers scoffed; it seemed Elisha was living in cloud cuckoo land.
Just outside the city gate were four men with an infectious skin condition. They were trapped within the area besieged by the Aramean army, but they were excluded from the walls of the city itself, banned from mingling with the other citizens. These four men got talking, and they decided there were two options open to them: stay where they were and suffer an almost certain slow death from starvation; or go and surrender to the Aramean army, with the risk of a summary execution, but also the possibility of being taken prisoner and given food.
They waited for dusk to fall and cautiously made their way to the edge of the enemy camp. Unknown to the four men, God had supernaturally scared the enemy away. They had abandoned their camp with all their food, belongings and livestock, and had fled. The four men couldn’t believe their eyes. The fell on the food and drink and began to fill their empty stomachs, as well as filling their arms and their pockets with silver, gold and clothes.
After this frenzy of satisfying their hunger, their consciences began to niggle at them.
“What we’re doing is not right,” they said to each other, “This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
So they hurried back to Samaria and, ignoring the ban that excluded them from its walls, they went straight to the gatekeepers and told them, “We went into the Aramean camp and no one was there — not a sound of anyone — only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.”
The good news was shouted from one gatekeeper to the next, until eventually it reached the king’s palace. At first the king was suspicious, believing that he smelled a rat: he got up in the night and said to his officers, “I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp to hide in the countryside, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.’”
One of his officers suggested a plan – take five of their remaining horses, and two chariots, and send some men to investigate and bring back some spoils if it turned out not to be a trick. And if it was just a snare set to catch them – well, the men were doomed to die of starvation anyway, so there was really nothing to lose.
The charioteers grew more incredulous, and then incredulity gave way to excitement, as they made their way down the road to the army camp and found it strewn with the clothes and belongings the army had discarded as they fled.
They returned and confirmed the news the four men had brought; and by the end of the day flour was selling for £1 a kilo and barley for 50p a kilo, just as Elisha had prophesied, and the city was saved from what had seemed certain doom.
Why do I love this story so much? Right from the outset of the siege, God had a plan for the people of Samaria, and it was not a plan to let the city perish. It was a plan for salvation and deliverance. But God’s plan, devised in heaven, required agents on earth to bring it about. And whom did He choose? Four disabled people, marginalised and excluded, feared as carriers of disease, forced to live outside of community.
To me, this is a marvellous metaphor for God’s purposes for His Church, with disabled people contributing to the life and health of God’s people. Perhaps you feel marginalised and excluded from church life, whether by physical barriers that keep you out of church buildings, the attitudes of fellow-Christians who fail to see your God-given potential, or simply by some condition or impairment that prevents you leaving the house.
I have good news for you! You are essential to God’s plans for His church! He needs you to bring about the salvation and deliverance He has planned for His world. Begin asking Him today what gift you have to bring to the Body of Christ, and whom you should speak to in order to allow your gift to bless the community of God’s people in your area. And then expect God to open doors of opportunity to you, and prepare to be amazed at how He will.