Troubled Waters

Elisha struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over. – 2 Kings 2:14

Forget, for a moment, about Elijah. Forget about the whirlwind, the chariot of fire, the company of nay-saying prophets.

Know only that Elijah is gone, leaving in charge Elisha, the intern who had followed him around like a puppy dog. Know that Elisha is both bereft and bewildered, unable to imagine what comes next.

In anger and frustration, Elisha slaps Elijah’s cloak on the water. In grief and desperation, he calls out to the God who seems to have abandoned him.

Consider the Elishas you know: good, faithful people caught in a mess of someone else’s making, trying with everything they’ve got to hang on, playing their last card like a gambler with nothing left to lose.

A transgender church member fits the bill. Bullied by their roommates, despairing of a way out, they send up a Sunday-morning SOS, tearfully begging the congregation for leads on a safe place to live.

When they strike the church’s fount of blessing, the water parts to reveal an elderly couple, not on anyone’s list of potential landlords, who feel God is speaking directly to them. The service postlude has barely ended when the 80-somethings invite the 21-year-old and their service dog to come live at their house.

Elishas are the people who pass through the waters and then go on to work great wonders.

So praise the God who makes a way out of no way, and give thanks for the ones who provide a way over. Then smack those troubled waters with all your might.


Holy Deliverer, when I can’t see a way through my troubles, give me the strength to call you out. 

About the Author
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.