Sunday May 14, 2017 | Nicole Bullock
One day Elisha was passing through Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to have a meal. So whenever he passed that way, he would stop there for a meal. She said to her husband, “Look, I am sure that this man who regularly passes our way is a holy man of God. Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”
One day when he came there, he went up to the chamber and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite woman.” When he had called her, she stood before him. He said to him, “Say to her, Since you have taken all this trouble for us, what may be done for you? Would you have a word spoken on your behalf to the king or to the commander of the army?” She answered, “I live among my own people.” He said, “What then may be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is old.” He said, “Call her.” When he had called her, she stood at the door. He said, “At this season, in due time, you shall embrace a son.” She replied, “No, my lord, O man of God; do not deceive your servant.”
The woman conceived and bore a son at that season, in due time, as Elisha had declared to her.
When the child was older, he went out one day to his father among the reapers. He complained to his father, “Oh, my head, my head!” The father said to his servant, “Carry him to his mother.” He carried him and brought him to his mother; the child sat on her lap until noon, and he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, closed the door on him, and left. Then she called to her husband, and said, “Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys, so that I may quickly go to the man of God and come back again.” He said, “Why go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath.” She said, “It will be all right.” Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Urge the animal on; do not hold back for me unless I tell you.” So she set out, and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel.
When the man of God saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite woman; run at once to meet her, and say to her, Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the child all right?” She answered, “It is all right.” When she came to the man of God at the mountain, she caught hold of his feet. Gehazi approached to push her away. But the man of God said, “Let her alone, for she is in bitter distress; the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, Do not mislead me?” He said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, give no greeting, and if anyone greets you, do not answer; and lay my staff on the face of the child.” Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave without you.” So he rose up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. He came back to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.”
When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and closed the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got up on the bed and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and while he lay bent over him, the flesh of the child became warm. He got down, walked once to and fro in the room, then got up again and bent over him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite woman.” So he called her. When she came to him, he said, “Take your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took her son and left.
God gives us dreams for our future. Yet, the circumstances and demands of life have a way of causing us to put those dreams away or forget them all together. How do we allow God to awaken us to the dreams he offers us? In this powerful message, Nicole Bullock (Co-Pastor of Blue Oaks Church in Brooklyn Center, MN) shares the story of a Shunammite woman who makes room for God in the face of paralyzing discouragement. Nicole also shares her own story of keeping faith in God through the uncertainty of seemingly-hopeless circumstances.
Nicole Bullock shared a powerful story in 2 Kings 4:8, about an unlikely friendship between Elisha the Prophet and a wealthy Shunammite woman. Whenever Elisha passed through her region, the woman would offer him a meal to honor God’s representative. After a while, the woman and her husband decided to make room in their house for Elisha to stay and rest upon passing through. The woman’s hospitality and willingness to make room for God in her life caused Elisha to be overcome with gratitude. Elisha asks what he can to for her as an expression of his gratitude for her generous hospitality.
Nicole notes how wonderful it is, when you tirelessly give yourself to others and someone asks, “How can we bless you back; what can we do for YOU?”
The Shunammite woman hesitates at first, but then Elisha is told that she wants a son. Elisha declares that God will give her a son within one year.
The Shunammite woman created space in her home for others and this makes space for God to move in her life. We want to be the kind of Kingdom people who create environments where people can become who God has called them to be. Elisha and the woman become friends in this way, and it’s interesting that the materializing of this woman’s dream begins with her hospitality toward someone else.
“Hospitality is the creation of free space where a
stranger can come in and be a friend.”
– Henri Nouwen
Immediately when Elisha declares this blessing on her, she responds in a way that reveals deep discouragement and lost hope from year after year of seeing her dream unfulfilled.
Nicole asks, “Have you ever been disappointed in such a way that you feel de-moralized? When your God-given dreams don’t come to pass, the heart gets sick.
The Shunammite woman had taken her dream and stuffed it down deep. She had taken her dream and put it away because she didn’t believe that it would come to pass anymore. She had lost hope.
Then Elisha comes along and says “you can take that dream off the shelf and make room for God to answer this prayer.” Because when a dream comes true for us there is life and there is joy, as Psalm 126 declares. The Shunammite woman had put the dream away, but now she’s invited to take it back out and make room for God again, and she does.
Imagine the joy she experienced when her son was born – God had given her a dream and had brought it to pass. The Celebration must have been a momentous occasion. And she lived happily ever after.
One day when her son had grown older, he fell ill and died in his mother’s lap. She carried him to the guest room made for Elisha, laid him on the bed, closed the door and left. Have you ever had a dream that you didn’t want to think about any more and didn’t want to be discouraged about anymore…and you put it in a room and shut the door and left it there? Instead of trusting God, sometimes we close the door on God and we sulk out of fear of becoming disappointed like that again.
Nicole shares her story of wanting a child, but her and her husband struggle with infertility – her dream looked impossible. Yet she read Matthew 7:7-11 and began laying hold of the promise of God, strengthening her faith. She developed a mantra: “God, you are a good Father and you love to give good gifts.” She realized that God wanted her to ask again.