I enjoy taking surveys and quantifying my experience so that businesses or people can improve. But I doubt that others appreciate my input as much as I enjoy giving it. I will rarely give someone or something a 1 or a 10 on the scale because I don’t like those extremes. The highest you will ever get from me is a 9 because there is always room for improvement. I would hate to give someone a 10 only from them to come back the next time and do better, leaving me no way to quantitatively show their improvement. I’m certain I’m over-analyzing this, but it points to a deeper truth about who I am as a person.
I always have something in reserve.
I always have a backup plan (or plans B-F), an ace in the hole, or a trick up my sleeve. Rarely do I show all my cards and let people see everything I have to offer. I strategically hold certain things back to be revealed at the right time in the right context. I think this points to two unhealthy habits: my lack of trust and my need to swoop in and be the hero, but we’ll cover those flaws another day. I don’t like extremes and I don’t ever want to commit to something in such a way that I don’t have margin or a way out. I rarely go “all out”.
Jehoash king of Israel went down to see him [Elisha] and wept over him. “My father! My father!” he cried. “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”
Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
“Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”
Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram and completely destroyed it. But now you will defeat it only three times.”
2 Kings 13:14-19
I love the graciousness of the Lord in this story. The nation of Israel had been disobedient and running from God. They had turned their back on him years before, choosing instead to worship other gods, yet he had compassion on this group of people. How incredible is that?!
While I see the goodness of God in this story, I also empathize with this King because he was really good at following directions. When Elisha told him to shoot and arrow he did. He obeyed quite well. Then he grabbed the arrows as he was instructed. When he was told to strike the ground he did. Honestly, if I were in his position, before I struck the ground, I might’ve asked for more information, “Excuse me? Elisha, how many times would you like me to strike the ground?” Or, it’s just as likely that I would’ve only hit the ground once because that’s what was instructed.
I think this story reveals so much to us about the Lord. He speaks clearly to us, but each word from him is an invitation to have faith. Certain commands may seem silly to us, but we are still to obey regardless of how we feel. The extent of our commitment will reveal our level of faith or trust in him. In certain contexts it’s safer to hold back, but it’s not necessary with the Lord. We don’t need to keep our faith or hope or love or commitment in a secure location waiting to see if he proves himself faithful. We can know and trust that, because he gave his all, he can be trusted with all that we have.