R.A. Tea Mathews | Guest Columnist
All the Black men I know call one another “brothers.” In the early church, Paul referred to Christians as “brothers.”
However, in my church, “brothers” mean something entirely different. Say that word and everyone knows who you mean—Mark, Merrel, and Michael, born two years apart. Older members call them “the boys,” even though they’re now grown men with adult children.
Last Sunday morning, I stepped into their conversation in the church foyer. The younger two stand 6 feet 3 inches tall. Mark is 6 feet 6 inches tall. It’s like entering the valley of the jolly, ho-ho-ho, holy giants.
At a dinner recently, I stood beside Mark, shoulder to shoulder—well, more like my shoulder to his hip.
Okay, I exaggerate. But my head was arched all the way back as I looked at him.
“How’s the air up there, Mark?”
Like me (and Baby Bob, if you read my column last week), we were all in the same nursery on Sunday mornings. We grew up in our magnificent place of worship, packed every Sunday, a sanctuary that will seat 650 people.
But the church is down to thirty members now.
On a good Sunday.
Yes, we’re in trouble. I am third generation. My parents were married there, I was ordained there, and it’s the place of all our baptisms and funerals. It’s impossible for me to think it will fail.
Why are we in trouble? Good question. Even more important, what to do?
But we’re not alone. Many people are facing some sort of crisis. It might be financial, a job in jeopardy.
Perhaps a marital breakdown or a sick loved one.
Scripture is filled with those in dire straits. Consider the Prophet Elisha’s servant. The young man was terrified one morning as he stepped outside Elisha’s tent.
This is one of my favorite moments in the Bible. Do you recall what he saw?
- A tornado coming straight toward them.
- A forest fire, flames licking at the tent.
- An enemy army surrounding them.
- Three demon-possessed men wielding swords.
Consider your choices and lock in your answer. Here’s the passage:
“When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’” (2 Kings 6:15)
The answer is No. 3.
The Syrian army was there to seize the prophet Elisha, who lived in the 9th century B.C. Why? Because every time the Syrian king was about to capture the king of Israel, someone warned the king of Israel to flee.
At first, the Syrian king thought he had a spy in his camp. When he learned it was the prophet Elisha, the king commanded his men,“Seize him!”
What did Elisha do upon learning he was surrounded?
- He prayed for the servant’s eyes to be opened.
- He escaped through a secret passageway.
- He surrendered to the Syrian king.
- He cursed the Syrian king, who died.
Consider your choices and lock in your answer. Here’s the passage.
Elisha said to his servant, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Isn’t that great!
Elisha then asked God to open the servant’s eyes. The answer is No. 1.
But what did he see?
“…he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:16-17)
Elisha was not alone. The man of God was the Lord’s servant and landed squarely within God’s promise: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious…” (Exodus 33:19)
Does that mean the rest of us are at a loss, waiting to see what God will do?
Scripture also says that Jacob wrestled with God so fiercely that the Lord could not get away. Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26)
And God did.
Are you prepared to wrestle God? Whatever you’re facing, does it mean that much to you?
If not for the brothers, our church would be at zero. They each sacrifice every week. And God knows that.
I treasure them for it.
Every person in our remnant of thirty loves the Lord. I hope you do, too. But it’s not enough.
Whatever your crisis—your relationship, your finances, your loved one, your church—how much does it mean to you? Are you prepared to wrestle God? To refuse to let Him go until He blesses you?
How much does it mean to you?
The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.”
Contact her at [email protected] to join her 1-Minute Bible Study.