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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

When Iron Floated


Throw a piece of iron in water and it will sink faster than a ship with a hole in it. No one expects a hunk of iron to float to the surface. But it did in our story for today. Here’s how it happened as told in 2 Kings 6:1-7.


A group of young missionary recruits accompanied Elisha on a mission trip to build a new structure outside of Jericho because they had outgrown the one they had been using. The young men gathered whatever tools they could and headed for the worksite.


One man was so poor that he had to borrow tools for the trip. Perhaps the man he borrowed from wished he could accompany the group and sent his tools instead. Among the tools he loaned his friend was an iron axe head.


Understand that this was an irreplaceable tool. Iron was not easily available at this time. How he acquired it, we don’t know. All we know is that it was an expensive loan, and he wouldn’t have received it from his friend if the borrower wasn’t trustworthy.


The work commenced with cutting down trees. For that, the iron axe head saved time and energy.

Then, the unthinkable happened. In one hefty strike against a tree, the axe head separated from its handle and went flying straight into the water to sink to the murky bottom where it could not be retrieved.


The borrower was beside himself. He feared debtor’s prison or worse because there was no way he could pay for the lost iron head or replace it. He feared his missionary days were over—all because of a lost iron axe head.


Elisha told the borrower to go find a stick.

A stick? What good was a stick? However, not one to question authority, the man brought Elisha a stick.


“Where did the axe sink?” Elisha asked.


The man pointed to the exact spot.


Then, Elisha threw the stick into the water where the iron axe head sank. The confused man wondered what good that did. However, he didn’t wonder long. The axe head surfaced and floated!

The man stood beside the water stunned. Elisha had to tell him to grab the axe head before it sank again.


Now, the man not only wielded a recovered axe head; he had the only one that ever floated!


It’s a simple story with a happy and unexpected ending. But what does it teach us?

  • That God always has an unexpected way to meet our needs.

  • That no loss is too small for His attention.

  • That He is the God of gravity, buoyancy and everything that we understand as fixed and unchangeable.

So here’s the question:

Where will you put your trust?

In whatever you call strong and irreplaceable? Or in God’s stick?


I don’t know about you, but I’m choosing the stick.

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