My Ten Cents

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What Is Your Situation?

Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land is unfruitful”. He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. He went out to the spring of the water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness anymore.” (2 Kings 2:19-21)

In spite of our efforts to create a facade to mask our internal problems, there is always something that gives our real situations away. Reading this verse reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah; the land and vegetation were attractive enough for someone like Lot. In Sodom, he saw vast acres of green for his livestock and crops, friendly neighbors and favorable laws, and cheap labor. Unfortunately, there was a lot morally wrong with Sodom and Gomorrah, and God was determined to destroy the land. So, in spite of its beautiful and lush greens, paved roads and magnificent edifice (assumed), and friendly (too friendly in many cases) citizens, the soul of Sodom and Gomorrah was bad and corrupted.

Another reminder is Enron, the Houston-based energy company that went under in a matter of days after its dirty deeds were exposed. On paper, year after year, Enron was a financially strong company. Its annual filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission was nothing but exemplary, the envy of its competitors and the darling of every SEC auditor. Unfortunately, beyond that paper façade was a company that was financially weaker than a paperweight.  When the façade was lifted off of Enron, the shockwave rippled beyond continental United States; countries far away in African and Asia lost millions of dollars, and in a matter of days the behemoth known as Enron was reduced to a heap of financial ashes. While some of its executives ended up in prison, one or two committed suicide, and the entire staff was up the creek without a paddle.

What happened to Enron and Sodom can be seen in many families and communities today; beyond that beautiful family portrait on the mantelpiece is always a rocky marriage, financial problems, marital infidelity, drug and alcohol abuse, and what have you. Inside that beautiful expensive dress or suit is a tortured soul crying out for intervention. That one person who lights up the party, who tells the funniest jokes, and always wins every drinking contest in the bar; The hunk who gets all the girls, or the blond who attracts all the guys, always smiling and looking all put together well. That socialite who throws the best Christmas parties every year, or the pastor who deliver’s that uplifting sermon every Sunday, they all have hidden “bad” waters that need purification.

What is your situation like beyond that camouflage? In the verse above, Elijah had transcended and Elisha was left with the mantle of prophetic leadership. The sons of the prophets in Jericho, not believing that Elijah did actually transcend, persuaded Elisha – very much against his will - to send some 50 men among his servants to go look for Elijah. As expected, the search party did not find Elijah, dead or alive, deposited anywhere in or around Jericho; but in their search, they discovered something: the terrain and placement of the land was a sight to behold, but because the water was bad the soil is not good for cultivation. Of course, for there to be a bumper harvest, there must be adequate supply of good water either naturally or through irrigation. The same is applicable in life: for there to be marital, financial, and business success, there has to be love and commitment, financial frugality, and business planning. For there to be redemption and salvation, there must first be acceptance, repentance, and submission to His will and ways; and for there to be academic success there first must be dedication to studying.

He said “bring me a new jar and put salt in it”. So they brought it to him. (Verse 20)

Elisha knew what needed to be done, and with what instrument. Salt is largely used as a purifier and preserver in those days, and even in some communities today. So, it was appropriate that Elisha will ask for a jar of salt, since the problem was with the water. If your problem is marital, what are you asking for? If you identify your problem as being financial, or spiritual, what do you perceive as the solution? If your business is not getting off the ground, after many years of toiling, what is the problem? Your soul is not at rest? Having sleepless nights and tortured mind? Where do you go for solutions? Do you need a marriage counselor? A financial planner or business analyst? Do you need a session with your pastor, doctor, a social worker or psychologist? What is your situation? When you identify it then you will be best able to look for the best possible solution.

He went out to the spring of the water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness anymore.” So the waters have been purified to this day, according to the words of Elisha (verse 21-22)

Elisha went to the spring – source/head – of the water and threw the salt in it. This is very important. It is not about pouring a jar of salt into a stream, it is more about where exactly you pour it. He did not pour it mid-stream or tail-stream, he poured it head-stream. If you cut of the head of a snake, the tail dies of. If you pour a jar of salt at the head of the stream, the purification process continues all the way down the stream.

The same process applies in our individual and collective problems. Most of our problems persist because we apply solutions mid-stream; we fail or refuse to apply solutions from the source of the problem; instead of a thorough analysis of our problem, with a view to identifying the source, we embark on a patchwork process that only identifies the parts of the problem and apply solutions accordingly. What is/are the cause/causes of your marital, spiritual, financial, and business problems? Are they in parts? Are the parts easily identifiable? If they are, can you successfully sequence them? If so, then you can apply the solutions from the first sequence and the results will cascade to the last one.

Just like Elisha poured the cruse of salt at the head/spring and cleaned out the entire river, so also will our problems be completely solved if we apply the solution at the origin of the problem.

Felix Oti

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