Do you enjoy fancy-dress or, for some reason, taking on a disguise? There is a story in the Old Testament about a queen who is told to put on a disguise, but sadly it was not for any party. It was her husband the king’s idea that she should go to the prophet, but - in disguise. Did she, or her husband, King Jereboam, really think she could deceive a prophet? In any case, by now was blind. But if you read the story, (you can read it in as it in the book of Kings), perhaps you will agree with me that both of them were already living in disguise.
Perhaps all she needed to do was to take off her tiara, her jewelled sandals and the paint from her face - as well as her fingers and toes? Maybe it would have been enough to go and borrow the worn and scuffed sandals of a servant, and wrap the old shawl around her that was usually used to cover the woman’s straggly hair. It would have been no problem to disguise her voice, for it was usually brittle as glass, when she commanded her unfortunate servants, and of course, she would have had to bend her proud head.
But are not many of us, like King Jereboam’s wife, already in disguise? I used to laugh at my mother when she used her special telephone voice, but some of us renounce the dialects or even cockney accents of our childhood, and some would-be preachers have even be known to adopt a slightly American accent, hoping to be another great evangelist.
Some of us ‘oldies’ would not dream of going to the cinema, yet do not discriminate over what we have ‘on the box’ at home. And we all know what it means to ‘put on a face.’ How often does beautifully applied make-up and a confident poise hide a broken heart or a painful addiction?
Jereboam’s wife was sent to visit the prophet in disguise, hoping she might hear some good news concerning their son, who was so desperately ill. I suppose visiting the prophet was the nearest they felt they could get to God? But did they really think they could fool God with a disguise?
The prophet might be blind, but God was not. She has not yet reached the door when the old man calls out, ‘Come in, Wife of Jereboam,’ and before she can utter a sound he is speaking out the word she dreaded, that their child would die. But there is more. He continues, and now he speaks those words that should encourage all of us who teach God’s word to the children: that their child would be the only one in all of their family who would have a decent burial, because he had lived to please the Lord.
We do not have to go to a prophet to hear God speak. Through the death of Jesus, God’s own Son, on the cross, we are able to go to the great Creator God himself and call him our Father. We can come to him with open face. No need of a posh voice, or of putting on a face. He sees us as beautiful, even if our hair is a mess. And he knows just what we have been watching, or thinking or saying.
We can pray with the Psalmist, ‘Search me oh God, and see if there be any wicked way in me..’
Oh yes, we all have need of some beauty treatment, but we must go to our Father. It is he who is already at work in our lives, changing us; transforming us into the likeness of his Son, and he loves to hear and answer our prayers. So – be glad. We can take off our masks. (You will find this story in 1 Kings 14)