So far in this series we have studied how women of God are Living Loved, Fully Surrendered, and have Extravagant Worship. No one would be surprised to see those traits in a Biblical study of women of God. Those things have been taught to us before and are expected. So how did Feisty Focus make it on the list?! Well, I’m not entirely sure that I will convince you that it belongs among such qualities, but I do believe that it has it’s place. We are going to look at Feisty Focus today through the life of the Shunnamite Woman in 2 Kings 4:8-37. I like this woman a lot so I’m a little sad that we don’t get to know her name. I’ll ask her what it is in Heaven. 🙂
The Shunnamite Woman was:
“One day Elisha passed through Shunem. A leading lady of the town talked him into stopping for a meal. And then it became his custom: Whenever he passed through, he stopped by for a meal. ‘I’m certain,’ said the woman to her husband, ‘that this man who stops by with us all the time is a holy man of God. Why don’t we add on a small room upstairs and furnish it with a bed and desk, chair and lamp, so that when he comes by he can stay with us?’ And so it happened that the next time Elisha came by he went to the room and lay down for a nap,” (2 Kings 4:8-11 MSG).
Here is what scripture has told us about her so far: she was a leader, some translations say that she was wealthy, she was persuasive, she was married, she made decisions like a boss lady, and she was lavishly generous. She had to be brave because women in that time were not exactly supposed to be telling their husbands or prophets what to do. This gal had a mind of her own and wasn’t afraid to speak up (more on that later).
Her relationship with Elisha began with a small gesture – “let’s just have this guy over for dinner.” Then it became a regular occurrence to the point where she ADDED A ROOM onto their house so that Elisha would have a comfortable place to stay when he was in town. I need you to see how grand this gesture was. She didn’t just throw clean sheets onto the guest bed (which still would have been kind and generous!). They built a room onto their house for Elisha and fully furnished it. This woman understood generous hospitality.
The definition of focus is to, “pay particular attention to.”
“Then he said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Tell the Shunammite woman I want to see her.’ He called her and she came to him. Through Gehazi Elisha said, ‘You’ve gone far beyond the call of duty in taking care of us; what can we do for you? Do you have a request we can bring to the king or to the commander of the army?’ She replied, ‘Nothing. I’m secure and satisfied in my family.’ Elisha conferred with Gehazi: ‘There’s got to be something we can do for her. But what?’ Gehazi said, ‘Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man.’ ‘Call her in,’ said Elisha. He called her and she stood at the open door. Elisha said to her, ‘This time next year you’re going to be nursing an infant son.’ ‘O my master, O Holy Man,’ she said, ‘don’t play games with me, teasing me with such fantasies!’ The woman conceived. A year later, just as Elisha had said, she had a son,” (2 Kings 4:12-17 MSG).
Elisha wanted to give back to her because she had been so kind to him. He told his servant Gehazi to ask her what she wanted. Her answer kind of breaks my heart and cracks me up at the same time. She said, “Nothing. I’m secure and satisfied in my family.” How many of us say that same sort of thing whenever someone offers to help us? We pretend that “all is well”.
We find out in the next couple of verses that she was not really telling the truth. She didn’t have a son and her husband was nearing an age when he would no longer be physically able to give her one. Their lineage was going to stop with them and there would be no heir for their inheritance. In that time a woman’s worth and value was completely dependent on her ability to produce sons – she was lacking.
There’s a fine line between acknowledging what we desire and living in contentment. A mind that is constantly focused on what it wants (and doesn’t have yet), is not finding joy in the season it’s currently in. Without realizing it, we let go of our unmet desires so that we can keep moving forward. We hide our unfulfilled dreams away in the private places of our hearts so that we don’t have to keep experiencing pain. It’s a defense mechanism that masks itself as surrender.
I really don’t think that she was trying to lie to Elisha. The Shunnamite Woman loved God deeply, but had asked Him for a son many other times and it hadn’t happened. She was guarding her heart so that she wouldn’t have to reopen that painful, unfulfilled dream again.
She chose Feisty Focus on God rather than living heartbroken over her desire for a son being unfulfilled. She choose to serve others and make them feel at home. The Shunnamite Woman made a home for Elisha when her own home was incomplete. So beautiful. God knows the desires of our hearts even if we have forgotten them or locked them away.
My husband preached last week about sowing and reaping. He talked about how what you give away is what comes back to you with interest. If you give encouragement to others, then you can expect to receive encouragement from the Lord. The Shunnamite Woman gave Elisha access to her home through her hospitality. She and her husband were his family while he was traveling. What she had given to Elisha was coming for her with interest! A year later she had a son! Now she really could say that she was “secure and satisfied with her family”.
The definition of feisty is: “(of a person, typically one who is relatively small or weak) lively, determined, and courageous.”
“The child grew up. One day he went to his father, who was working with the harvest hands, complaining, ‘My head, my head!’ His father ordered a servant, ‘Carry him to his mother.’ The servant took him in his arms and carried him to his mother. He lay on her lap until noon and died. She took him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut him in alone, and left. She then called her husband, ‘Get me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the Holy Man; I’ll be back as soon as I can.’ ‘But why today? This isn’t a holy day—it’s neither New Moon nor Sabbath.’ She said, ‘Don’t ask questions; I need to go right now. Trust me.’ She went ahead and saddled the donkey, ordering her servant, ‘Take the lead—and go as fast as you can; I’ll tell you if you’re going too fast.’ And so off she went. She came to the Holy Man at Mount Carmel. The Holy Man, spotting her while she was still a long way off, said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Look out there; why, it’s the Shunammite woman! Quickly now. Ask her, ‘Is something wrong? Are you all right? Your husband? Your child?’’ She said, ‘Everything’s fine.’ But when she reached the Holy Man at the mountain, she threw herself at his feet and held tightly to him. Gehazi came up to pull her away, but the Holy Man said, ‘Leave her alone—can’t you see that she’s in distress? But God hasn’t let me in on why; I’m completely in the dark.’ Then she spoke up: ‘Did I ask for a son, master? Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t tease me with false hopes’?’ He ordered Gehazi, ‘Don’t lose a minute—grab my staff and run as fast as you can. If you meet anyone, don’t even take time to greet him, and if anyone greets you, don’t even answer. Lay my staff across the boy’s face.’ The boy’s mother said, ‘As sure as God lives and you live, you’re not leaving me behind.’ And so Gehazi let her take the lead, and followed behind,” 2 Kings 4:18-30 MSG).
My response would be something along the lines of: “Seriously God?! I was content to lay the dream down. You asked me what I wanted! I took my dream out of the safe, private place in my heart and then You let my dream die?!?”
The Shunnamite Woman’s response is absolutely legendary – nothing like mine. Her Feisty Focus is why I think this characteristic belongs on the list of traits of women of God. As we look at her reaction to her son’s death, I want you to imagine that you are her. We all have dreams that have died or that we have hidden away so that we won’t be disappointed.
- Surrender. Verse 21 says, “She took him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut him in alone, and left.” Elisha was in his add-on bedroom when he pulled the Shunnamite Woman’s dream out hiddenness and prophesied that the boy was coming. A few years later, she carried her lifeless child right back to that same room where he was promised. She laid him down on the bed, shut the door, and left. We can learn an awful lot from this response! We need to lay our dead dreams down before God, shut the door, and leave them alone until we have heard the next steps from God.
- Ask for help. Verse 22 says, “She then called her husband, “Get me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the Holy Man; I’ll be back as soon as I can.” The Shunnamite Woman knew that she would get to the man of God faster if she had help so she told her husband what she needed. I know this is very hard for some of us but we need to allow our trusted people to help us.
- Move quickly. Verses 23-25 say, “But why today? This isn’t a holy day—it’s neither New Moon nor Sabbath.” She said, ‘Don’t ask questions; I need to go right now. Trust me.’ She went ahead and saddled the donkey, ordering her servant, ‘Take the lead—and go as fast as you can; I’ll tell you if you’re going too fast.’ And so off she went.” Her hubby asked a valid question – he was just trying to figure out why she was leaving. The Shunnamite Woman did not even tell her husband that their beloved child had died. In her grief, she could have burst into tears, screamed, cried out “WHY?”, or asked her husband to go and get the man of God for them while she held the child. But no. She did not engage with her emotions or stir up any drama. She knew where she was headed and didn’t have time to waste talking about it. This woman knew there was one person who could help her and she was on a mission to get to him.
- Close your mouth. In verse 26-27 Gehazi asked the Shunnamite Woman if she was ok, “She said, ‘Everything’s fine.’ But when she reached the Holy Man at the mountain, she threw herself at his feet and held tightly to him.” Again, I don’t think that she was trying to lie to Gehazi, she just didn’t need his help. Gehazi hadn’t promised the boy to her, Elisha had. He was the only one that she wanted to share her issue with because he was the only one who could do something about it. When she got to Elisha, she threw herself at his feet. She reminds me of Mary of Bethany that we studied last week. Mary threw herself at Jesus’ feet when her brother died. Both of these women took their grief and sadness to the feet of the One who could help them. How often do we share our problem with anyone who will listen instead of taking it to God?
- Get involved. Verse 30 says, “The boy’s mother said, ‘As sure as God lives and you live, you’re not leaving me behind.’ And so Gehazi let her take the lead, and followed behind.” When Gehazi started off towards her home without her, she was not having it! She was not about to let Gehazi get to her little boy before her. There was no way that he was going to her house to pray for her son, leaving her behind! She could have stayed back and rested from her journey. But no. She turned right back around and led the man to her home. This woman broke all kinds of societal norms. She was going to see a miracle. She demanded it.
Feisty Focus is a kind way of saying strong-willed. 🙂 I have a daughter who has been strong-willed since the womb. God designed her that way. She has some serious Feisty Focus. It’s my responsibility to teach her to walk in humility and focus on the right things, but I never want her to loose her feisty spark. That strength in her will open doors and it is beautiful to watch. She will change the world for Jesus.
If you read the rest of the story, you’ll see that the Shunnmaite Woman’s Feisty Focus saved her son. Elisha brought the boy – the dream – back to life. I can’t help but think that there’s a holiness to her determination and persistence. God gave her leadership abilities and He was glorified when she operated in them. She wasn’t obnoxious or brazen. This wasn’t about an “I am woman, hear me roar” attitude. She simply lead well. She had a mind of her own and was not afraid to speak up. The men in her life listened to the wisdom that came from her because she took action and got results.
God’s word has a lot to say about Feisty Focus:
“Set your gaze on the path before you. With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead,
ignore life’s distractions,” (Proverbs 4:25 TPT).
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” (Luke 18:1-5 NIV).
“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective,” (Colossians 3:12 MSG).
“So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always,” (Philippians 4:8 TPT).
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne,” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT).
Here’s the most important thing: the Shunnamite Woman’s Feisty Focus wasn’t about bringing fame or status to herself. She used her focus to serve Elisha and make space for him in her home. She used it to keep her mind off of what she didn’t have and on God’s goodness. And she used her Feisty Focus to get to the man of God when it looked like her promise was dead.
Elisha was a prophet. If people wanted to know what God was saying, they needed God’s mouthpiece to tell them. The Shunnamite Woman’s Feisty Focus was repeatedly about getting as close to God as possible. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we no longer have to depend on prophets to hear what God is saying. He tore the veil that used to separate us from God. We now have complete access to Him as His children.
If there is a dream in your heart that has been hidden away or, if you have watched a dream die, I want to encourage you to respond like the Shunnamite Woman did. Our homework (attached below) will help you walk through those steps.
It would be very easy to go through life and miss our purpose. Between our relationships, the normal pressures of each day, and the enemy, there’s an awful lot trying to distract us from God.
I want to be Feistily Focused about making space for God in my life.
I want to be Feistily Focused about keeping my mind on the goodness of God.
I want to be Feistily Focused about staying as close to God as possible.
It is beautiful when God’s girls are determined to live with Feisty Focus for His glory. Let’s use Feisty Focus to get as close to God as possible and hear what He has to say about our dreams.