Master looked at me in surprise. “I’ve been watching the other servants, and I’ve noticed them giving you angry looks or whispering something hurtful. None of them appear to like you. Why would you want to stay with them?”
I paused for a moment, trying to find the right words to articulate my thoughts. “Sir, I want to go home, but I could never fully enjoy it while I knew my fellow Jews were living here in bondage. Besides, it doesn’t really matter if they don’t like me. If I’m supposed to help my enemies, I think I’m supposed to help my fellow Jews if I can.”
Master looked thoughtfully at me. “You are a unique child, Elizabeth. You’re wise beyond your years and desire to do what is right, and yet you are still a child at heart.” He sighed. “I will talk to my wife.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said, looking down at the floor and stepping back to my corner.
All the rest of that day I wondered about my decision. Sometimes I was tempted to regret it. Now not even one of the servants would go home. And what about my family? They must miss me too, and now I might never see them again. Perhaps I should have accepted Master’s offer.
Then I would push those thoughts away by reminding myself of why I had refused. “You would have regretted it,” I told myself. “You never would have been able to enjoy life like before. You would have wondered about everyone else here and wished you could have helped them. Besides, you are called to help even your enemies. Your saying no could be the key to help them. You chose rightly. God is pleased with your decision, and he is working through it. This is part of his plan.”
That evening, as the last light faded in the sky, Master had all the servants gather in the front yard. He and his wife stood on a small wooden platform some servants had placed before the front doors. I could see them well from my spot alone, on the side of the crowd.
“Servants,” Master began, causing a complete silence to fall over the group, “young and old, citizens of Aram and those captured from foreign lands, you know well that I was recently afflicted with leprosy. No one survives that disease, as you all are well aware. Yet here I am, standing before you today alive and well. I survived.
“Several days ago, a servant told my wife about a prophet in Israel who could heal me.” There was a slight rustling in the crowd, and several people turned to look at me. I wished I could disappear and was glad when they looked back at Master. “I had spent time praying to Aram’s gods,” Master continued, “asking them for healing or wisdom, and received no answer. So when I heard about the prophet, I decided to visit him. He told me to wash seven times in the Jordan river. I disliked this idea, and nearly didn’t try it. However, my servants told me, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ So, I obeyed. I went to the Jordan and washed seven times, and I was healed. I found my skin was ‘restored’ and ‘clean like that of a young boy’.
“When I saw the miracle, I knew ‘that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.’ I talked to the prophet and told him, ‘please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this.’ And the prophet told me, ‘Go in peace’.*
“I know now that Israel’s God is the one true God. He is the one who healed me, who gave me my life back. And he used a prophet, my servants, and a young girl to do so.” Master turned to look at me, along with everyone else, and I felt more uncomfortable than ever. “My wife’s servant, Elizabeth, chose to tell her about the prophet, something few people would have done. Now that I serve the true God, I know it was wrong to take the child from her home, and it would be wrong to continue to keep her. I told her I would free her and take her home. However, she refused.” Whispers ran through the audience. “She told me she could not go home while she knew some of her fellow Jews were serving here,” Master said, watching me. “I spent most of today thinking about what she said, and I have made a decision.” He paused for a moment, moving his eyes to look out at the entire group. “I no longer have an easy conscience about forcefully owning servants who were taken from Israel, the chosen people of the true God, the God I now serve. I want to do what is right. So, I have decided that every servant here who was kidnapped and taken from any foreign land is now free.”
The audience erupted. The night air was filled with gasps, cries of joy, laughter, sobbing, and rejoicing. I sank to the ground, overwhelmed. We were free. We were all free.
“Thank you, thank you!” someone yelled out, and other servants echoed the cry. Master smiled. “Don’t thank me,” he said. “Thank God, the one true God. He is the one who healed me and rescued you.”
“Yes!” someone cried out. “Thank you, God!”
That night, I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling, as I had done so many times before. But today was different. Today, I was not weeping or asking questions. Today, I was filled with a joy I had not felt in years. Today, I felt truly at peace. I was overwhelmingly grateful that I had obeyed God, that I had told Mistress about Elisha, that I had chosen to stay. The decisions had been hard, but I now knew it was worth it. Had I chosen my own way at any point and not God’s way, I would have missed the joy, peace, and hope I now felt. “Thank you, God,” I whispered.
The next day was spent by the now-freed servants in gathering supplies for our journey. After helping Mistress prepare for the day one last time, I was allowed to leave.
“Thank you, Elizabeth,” Mistress said to me before I left. “You have been a faithful servant, and a blessing to those around you. May God bless you all the rest of your days and richly reward you for your kindness.”
“Thank you,” I said, blushing slightly. “I think he already has.” I gave her a huge smile before skipping joyously out the door and down to the kitchen to see how I could help. Just before I reached the door, someone called my name. “Elizabeth!”
I turned to see Martha running towards me. “Elizabeth,” she said again, sliding to a stop, “oh, Elizabeth, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for not trusting you and accusing you and calling you names and being so cruel. I should not have treated you that way. I’m so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?”
I smiled. “Of course, Martha.”
A look of gratefulness and relief spread over her face. “You are so kind, Elizabeth.” Then, on an impulse, she threw her arms around me. “Thank you.”
Everywhere I went that day, people thanked me and apologized for what they said and did. I felt embarrassed by all the attention, but I was incredibly grateful for God’s goodness to me and always told people God was the one to thank, not me. And I did just that. Each time I remembered I was truly going home, I couldn’t help but whisper, “Thank you.”
*2 Kings 5