They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axehead fell into the water. “Oh no, my lord!” he cried out. “It was borrowed!”
The man of God [Elisha] asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. “Lift it out,” he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it (2 Kings 6:1-7).
What a funny little story. Just a little account about a borrowed axe and a tool mishap at the Jordan River. So why did this story make the cut? Why does God want us to know that this happened in Elisha’s ministry? What benefit could we possibly get from the floating axe-head? Well, I don’t pretend to understand our big God or his reasons for doing what he does, but here are a couple of potential ideas I have as to why this story made it into the Story:
Nothing is too small for God
In my daily prayers, there are a lot of things I spew forth. When I pause for too long to really think about my prayer list, sometimes I let the devil get the better of me. This comes in the form of doubting why I’m including something in my prayers—the devil specializes in making me think that my requests won’t be heard by God or that they aren’t important enough to bring to the throne. When I look at the world around me and all the really big problems, my own worries and concerns seem trivial. Suddenly I’m ashamed of even mentioning them in my prayers. But nothing is too small for God. He truly wants us to bring any and everything to him in prayer, from the big to the very small. Why? Because God cares about the little things. He cared about that borrowed axe-head and about the worried man who carelessly lost it. He cared about Elisha and his ministry. And this lesser known Bible story shows us that he cares for us and all our little troubles, whether we’re praying for a sick dog or a problem with a coworker.
As a mom, it’s often necessary to practice triage with my kids’ requests. Urgent matters (extreme loss of blood, a puking child, etc.) get my full attention. And when that happens, there are three other kids whom I often have to ignore for a hot minute; ergo, one kid’s plea for a snack or another kid’s request for me to check on a hangnail take second fiddle. I’m human, and I only have so many ears and only so much attention to give. How awesome that our God isn’t like that! He gives his full attention to our tiny requests in the midst of the big of this world. Our misplaced idea that we should not be bothering God with our small things is colored by our own human limitations and not supported by Scripture. In fact, the Bible tells us over and over again that our God is a God of details (see Matthew 10:29,20).
Nothing is too big for God
The story of the axe-head is sandwiched between a bunch of amazing miracles: we watch as Elijah is taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. We see a bottomless jar of olive oil and Naaman healed of leprosy. We stand at a deathbed as God uses Elisha to bring a little boy back to life, and we watch in awe as the same life-giving God strikes an opposing army blind to ensure Israel’s victory over the Arameans.
In short, God is taking care of his people in some really big ways. He’s showing us that nothing is impossible for him. He can raise an axe-head from a watery grave; he can raise a child from an earthly grave. And this points us to an even greater rising—the resurrection of Jesus and, subsequently, our own rising to be with him in heaven. Clearly, nothing is too big for God.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7,8).
Does this mean God will always answer our prayers the way we want and in the time frame that suits our fancies? Well . . . no. He still is God, and he knows what we need and answers our prayers in the way he sees fit. But because of his great love and sacrifice, we are his own dear children, worthy of approaching our Father in heaven. He wants us to pray—for the big, the little, and everything in between.