Most of us would have no trouble naming some of the "major" characters of God's biblical story. After all, even those outside of the church know a thing or two about guys like Adam, Noah, Jesus, and Paul. But sometimes, it's the lesser-known names that have something to teach us about what it means to be God's people, a people of faith. One of those lesser-knowns is Gehazi, whose story is an amazing kind of broken-beautiful.
Gehazi was a servant. He was the man of the man of God, Elisha. He's the one who kept the prophet's donkeys, who guided the way, who controlled the prophet's affairs, and the Scriptures actually tell us his name - more than once. We don't know for sure at what point Gehazi came alongside Elisha, whether he was there for events like the taking of Elijah and the passing of the mantle, or whether he came along later, but we know that Gehazi was witness to an overwhelming number of prophecies and miracles by nature of his position with Elisha.
When Elisha stayed in the woman's upper room, when he promised the woman a son, when he slept on the roof, Gehazi was right there for all of it. In fact, Gehazi became such a trusted assistant that when the woman's son died, Elisha sent Gehazi ahead of him to lay his staff on the child's body in order to raise him from the dead.
Yes, you read that right. At a moment when a true miracle of God is the only thing that will do, the prophet sends his own servant, Gehazi, to take care of it. The man who has witnessed so much becomes a witness himself, and he takes off running toward the little boy without a second thought. (We must also say, however, that Elisha comes after him and when the prophet himself arrives, the servant has failed, thus far, to revive the boy.)
What's great about Gehazi is that he has no illusions about who he is...or isn't. He knows he's the servant to the servant of God. He knows the incredible, miraculous, wondrous things that Elisha has done, but he knows also that every one of those things has come from God. He doesn't fancy himself bigger or better than he truly is. When he takes off running toward the boy, he does so out of obedience, not out of grandiosity. He knows he carries with him the prophet's staff, and he knows that the prophet's staff carries with it the life-giving force of God.
He knows he is but two steps removed from God, God Himself, and he lives confidently in that knowledge. At no point does Gehazi ever say, "But I am just a servant." No. He is the servant of the servant of God. He has a front row seat to it all and occasionally, he himself is invited to come up on stage.
But when he is done, he's always ready to sit down again. He knows this is not his show.
It's Gehazi who speaks to the king when the king needs to know whether what the woman has said about the prophet is true as she seeks to have her land restored to her. The king needs some information that the prophet has, but the prophet's servant is good enough to give it. And Elisha trusts him to do it. The messengers of the king have come for the prophet, but they get as far as Gehazi, and they know that he has the authoritative word just as well.
That's incredible. Now, I know that's the way that things historically worked at the time in which Gehazi lived. It was common for servants to carry the full weight of those they served, to speak for them, to represent them, to be known for managing their affairs. But it's the kind of thing that is often lost on us as modern readers of the Word.
Truthfully, it's easy for us to read right past this man. Gehazi? He's not a main character. He's not a real guy. His story doesn't matter. Who is this Gehazi? He's a nobody, some guy standing in Elisha's shadow. But there are no nobodies in God's story; everybody is somebody. And there's no one standing in anyone's shadow, but in the shadow of God Himself.
And we have a lot to learn from Gehazi. Because his story is not so different from so many of our stories, his heart not so different from our hearts, and his redemption....