Toddlers can be amazing little sources of revelation. Since I am enormously blessed to have three of them, I am dealt a heavy dose of wisdom on a daily basis. Here’s the funny thing about toddlers. Though they are comparatively lacking in accumulated knowledge over their short lives, they still insist on doing things their way (often against the advice of their exasperated parents).
For instance, every night (without fail) when I am giving my three-year-old son a bath, I ask him to tilt his head back and look up. This is so when I wash his hair, the water won’t run down and get shampoo into his eyes. He flat out refuses, choosing to look down instead. I warn him multiple times of the consequence of that choice – thinking maybe this will be the night he listens. Inevitably, however, I will end up pouring the jug of water over his downward facing head and the shampoo-infused mixture will predictably flow right into his eyes. Even though it’s tear free he still freaks out and screams, “I WANT A TOWULLUH!” to wipe his face.
Sometimes that sounds like my personal relationship with my heavenly Father. I wonder how many times in my life have I flat out insisted doing things my way against the compassionate urgings of God only to demand a towel afterwards when it all blows up in my face. You’d have thought by now I would have learned to look up first and listen to the voice of infinitely more knowledge than I will ever possess.
The whole sage reminds me of a biblical story that is quickly becoming a favorite for my wife and me – the story of Jehoshaphat.
The ATS Bible Dictionary has this to say about Jehoshaphat:
“He was distinguished by his zeal for true religion, and his firm trust in God. He thoroughly cleansed the land from idolatry, restored the divine ordinances, and provided for the religious instruction of the people. His government was highly prospered at home and abroad.”
Despite the good he accomplished, however, Jehoshaphat’s story is riddled with poor choices (as are all of ours).
Jehoshaphat arranges for an alliance with the wicked King Ahab of Israel. The marriage arrangement results in a failed assault against the Syrians (on which he embarks against the direct advice of God) and reintroduces idol worship in Judah. He then manages to lose an entire fleet of ships in a failed trade agreement. Finally, Jehoshaphat unites with King Joram in a war against Moab. While they are successful, the endeavor spurs a retaliatory assault by a massive coalition of Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, and Syrian armies that marched towards Jerusalem in order to wipe Judah off the face of the map.
Surrounded and on the edge of destruction, Jehoshaphat proclaims a fast in Judah and gathers an assembly in Jerusalem. In faith, he calls out to the Lord, ending his fantastic prayer with the following words:
…we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NKJV)
Wow…our eyes are upon you… talk about a great time to look up!
God responds, sending his Spirit to speak through a man named Jahaziel:
“…‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’…” 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 (NKJV)
Sure enough, God arranges for the armies to turn against each other – completely annihilating one another. When Jehoshaphat arrives with his army the next morning, all they could see were dead bodies extending in every direction:
24 So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped. 2 Chronicles 20:24 (NLT)
Jehoshaphat became a fervent warrior in that moment because he took the counterintuitive step of surrender – shifting his eyes upwards, seeking guidance. As a result of his faithful obedience, God fights the battle completely for him. Had he done otherwise, it would have spelt certain disaster for him.
Like my son in the bathtub, I often find myself gazing downwards, making a mess of things by insisting on doing it my way. My prayer is that I continue to grow in faith and trust to where I am always looking upwards instead – even if it may sting my eyes a little. Wash my hair Your way God – not mine!
– Nicolas C. Day
 2 Chronicles 18
 2 Kings 8:18
 1 Kings 22
 2 Kings 3