Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Windows of Heaven - A View From the Valley

Yesterday was Olive's and Bob's 58th wedding anniversary.

And yesterday was Dad's 79th birthday.

He made lunch for all of us - roast chicken, biscuits, two different chiffon cakes.

Giving thanks for breakfast -
oopmah made by Deborah Joy.
Notice the floury cuff from making biscuits!
He also spoke at Bethel Church that morning. 

His text was from 2 Kings chapter 7. The story is of the Israelites, who were in the throes of a great famine. Great means enormous, overwhelming. But the root of this word, Dad explained, means to twist: this famine was wringing the life out of the city. Literally. People were eating their own children. They were driven to unspeakable acts because of their desperation.

When the king heard of this atrocity he tore his clothes in grief; and it was revealed that underneath the rich, royal robes he wore sackcloth - the garment of mourning, of repentance - next to his skin. Dad commented that we might very often be in contact with people who are suffering in ways we cannot imagine; everything seems to be the status quo on the surface, but underneath that layer there are real hurts, real sorrows, unbearable pain.

Not only was the king in deep mourning, he was also furious. He roared for the head of Elisha.

He intended to destroy the one person who had spoken the truth to him, the one person who would be able to find a way out of the darkness for the city of Samaria.

But God protected his prophet, who got a message to the king through the latter's servant that the very next day there would be food and to spare.

However, one of the king's closest advisors scoffed at the notion: "If the Lord Himself should make windows in heaven, would this thing be?"

Elisha responded that because of the man's lack of faith, he would see that "this thing" would indeed be but he would not eat any of the food that would be provided.

And so it was. That night four lepers - outcasts, living on the outskirts of the city, starving along with everyone inside the city walls - decided to take a chance. They figured they were dead any way they looked at it, so they might as well throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrians who had surrounded the city and laid siege to it.

You're probably familiar with the story: earlier that night God had caused the armies of Syria to hear a noise that sounded like armies surrounding them; and so they fled, leaving their tents, their food, their plunder, their livestock.

The lepers came upon this abandoned camp and, falling onto the food, ate their fill. They took everything they could carry; and then they paused. They mulled it over with each other, coming to the conclusion that if they didn't pass the word on to their people that there was food for the taking, bad luck would surely hit them.   

This was no deep spiritual prompting that made them share the good news; rather, it was a very natural response to the potential of getting into trouble if they didn't act. So they told the porter at the gates, who got the word to the king.

God used a combination of divine power - causing the army to flee the scene - and humanity - the lepers - to save the city from starvation and death. In His providence, Dad said, He involves human beings to accomplish His great works. Look at even the birth of Jesus, for example: Jesus didn't simply fall out of heaven onto earth; God used Mary as the channel through which Jesus was born and the person who would bring Him up.

The people of the city, when they were given the news, stormed off in the direction of the abandoned camp. And the king's advisor, who had been standing guard at the gate of the city, saw the food, saw the people racing to get it, but was trampled underfoot in the stampede.

Two other details are significant about this story, Dad remarked. The first is that all the action - every bit of it - took place in the night. It was in the evening that the lepers decided to go to the camp of the Syrian army. It was night when they reported their findings to the porter, who passed the word on to the king. And it was still night when the people stormed the gates in their need to get food.   That food had been made available to them because at twilight, even before the lepers went to the camp, God had caused the army's wholesale evacuation. God had already made provision before people had discovered it.

Dad reminded us of the story of the Red Sea parting for the Israelites as they fled from Egypt. This parting of the waters of the Red Sea in order that the people could cross over in safety was also accomplished at night. 

Jesus Himself died in the supernatural darkness that descended on the land for three long hours.

The other thing Dad said that struck a real chord with me is this: God promised the king, through Elisha, that the people would be fed. The king's advisor mocked the idea. "Unbelief does not negate or nullify God's promise," Dad reminded us. God doesn't need my buying into His promise in order for Him to carry out what He has said He will do. And He often works when I can't even see what is happening; He does some of His best work in the valley of the shadow. His provision is sufficient for all; but it is efficient for those who believe what He says.

Dad sang the old familiar gospel hymn:
The beautiful valley of the Thompson River
Kamloops, twilight Sept 5, 2011

He leads me beside still waters
somewhere in the Valley below
He draws me aside to be tested and tried
but in the valley He restoreth my soul ...

If I can believe, even in the valley of sorrow and desperation and heartache, I will ultimately be able to see the windows of heaven open with the provision I need, the provision that is waiting for me.

In the third event of yesterday the windows of heaven opened for our beloved friend Leona. Wes and Leona celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last year. And as afternoon made way for twilight this September 4 he sat by her bedside in the hospital, stroking her arm gently to relieve her anxiety. When it first happened he was able to calm her quite easily. When she became jittery the second time, it took much more effort. And so this saint, while soothing his wife, opened his heart to God in total faith, in simple trust: "Father, you know I need her," he prayed. "But if it's her time, please take her; don't let her suffer ..."

Wes and Leona early 2011
As he finished praying he lifted up his head to look at the dearest face on this earth to him; and she was gone. Wes, believing, had unlatched those windows of heaven for his beloved. And now as he prepares to make his lonely journey through the valley of the shadow cast by her death he can look upward and know that his darling is waiting for him, watching through the windows of heaven for the day that they will open and reunite him with her.


  1. thank you for sharing that word. Life would mean nothing without Him.

  2. Oh, dear Leona! How precious he could be with her.

  3. Thank you for sharing the message preached, so we could all, like those in the story, be fed. Thank you for sharing the photos so we could, like Elijah, see what is really there. Thanks to God for godly people. Oh to be like them, and Thee.


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