She had no agenda. She had no predetermined expectations of the prophet. The wealthy woman from Shunem had everything she needed, but she recognized what Elisha carried: the Presence of God. So she invited him into her home and, soon, made a permanent place for him to stay whenever he was in town. She made room for the Presence of God (2 Kings 4:9-10).
Her generosity touched Elisha and he wanted to return the favor, but the woman refused. The Presence of God was more than enough for her. She knew that nothing the prophet could give her would compare to the blessing of God’s Presence. For as the Psalmist declared, “In Your Presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).
Elisha persisted in his desire to reward the woman, so when he learned that she longed for a son, he prophesied that she would have one by the same time next year. Elisha’s prophecy came to pass.
It is no surprise, then, that years later, when the woman’s son fell sick and died, she laid him in the room she had prepared for the prophet and shut the door. Her immediate declaration of faith was, “It is well!” She set out to look for the prophet, believing once again that he carried within him what she needed. She did not waver in her faith but stood firm in her pursuit so that when Elisha offered to send his servant in his place to raise the boy, the woman refused, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I won’t go home unless you go with me”
Elisha relented, followed her home, and raised the boy.
How do you host the Presence of God? First, you need to be able to recognize Him. The woman from Shunem recognized that Elisha was a holy man of God and she understood what he carried within him. If you hang around carriers of God’s Presence, you will become familiar with Him, too. Secondly, you need to make room in your life, home, and heart for Him. This includes setting apart space and time to commune with God. Like all relationships, time spent together leads to greater intimacy. Finally, making space for the Presence means getting rid of junk from your life, home and heart. God’s Presence cannot jostle for space with clutter.
The Shunnamite woman made room for God’s Presence, and for her kindness towards the prophet, she received the miracle of life—twice.