Why do we make things that are supposed to be so simple…so difficult? Am I the only one? By God’s grace I think I’m getting better at it but, WOW! I can get so frustrated with myself sometimes.
I’ve been going through the Bible chronologically this year (I certainly haven’t been consistent every day but I do try…which is the most important thing, right?) Anyway, today reminded me of this conundrum as I was reading in 2 Kings 5. This is the story of Naaman, the commander of the army for the King of Aram, and his skin disease.
Naaman was highly regarded because of the great victories the Lord had given him and very important to the King of Aram. Aram had gone on raids and brought a young girl back from Israel to serve Naaman’s wife. “She said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.”. I want to pause here and take note of two things. First, Naaman and his wife must have been some pretty great folks for the servant girl (taken from her home country and family) to have such compassion on her master’s affliction. The very human side of me, and perhaps the red head in me, would be looking for every opportunity to escape and go back home…not feel sorry for my captor. (Just me??) Anyway, the compassion this girl has speaks a lot, not only about her but about them as well. Second, God will move you into the most unusual places, a lot of times it’s places you don’t even want to be, in order to accomplish His will. Our job is to be compliant and go where He sends us (easier said than done).
I wonder how long the servant girl told her master and mistress of the prophet and the cure that could be Naaman’s. Talk about persistence? This little servant girl must have been something else…and we don’t even know her name. Small people, doing small things, that lead to big miracles! Anyway, I doubt he jumped on the band wagon right off the bat. Finally, he started thinking maybe there was something to what this girl was saying, eventually believing there was a chance for a cure to the point that he would go and speak to the King. Naaman must have had great faith in the potential of this really happening. Naaman proceeds to go to the King and tells him what this Israelite servant girl has told him. The King gives him a letter to give the King of Israel and sends him on his way.
When the King of Israel gets the letter he has an absolute come apart. Can you really blame him? Read for yourself…”When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease.”. I think I would have a come apart too. The King of Israel tears his clothes, a sign of great distress, and says “Am I God, killing and giving life that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Recognize that he is only picking a fight with me.” In today’s culture we’d say it more like this…”How am I supposed to cure a man of a disease? Is he trying to kill me or something?!”.
But God knows all and here comes Elisha. He hears the news and sends a message to the King. “Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel.” So, Naaman came with all his entourage (did I mention he also brought 750 lbs of silver, roughly $150,000 today, plus 150 lbs of gold $2,721,209.67 roughly today and ten sets of clothes which I’m guessing must have been pretty stylish!) to Elisha’s front door. Can you even imagine a guy you’ve never met coming to your door with ALL of that and asking you to cure him of a skin disease???
Elisha, being the person he was, didn’t even go out to meet him. He sent his messenger who told Naaman to go wash in the Jordan river 7 times and his skin would be restored and he would be clean. As I sit here and write this I wonder, why didn’t Elisha go out to meet him. If you think about it…it really is a little rude. I guess that’s why Naaman got angry and left…”I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease. Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be clean?” He turned and left in a rage. As I kept reading the story I think the answer of why Elisha didn’t/wouldn’t go out to meet him becomes evident and is a great lesson for us. Distraction and temptation. Is it possible that the enemy, Satan, could have/would have used the great amount of wealth to influence Elisha, to tempt him, to distract him? It must have been a possibility because if you read further on in the story, Elisha’s servant Gehazi, gets bitten by the greed bug and it doesn’t go well for him…or the generations that spring from him either. If you are coming into a situation where God wants to use you but you are under the influence of temptation or distraction, can you be used purely? Obviously God can use anyone He wants, anytime He wants, to accomplish anything He wants but I do wonder how the purity of our intentions and attention influences things. Just a thought but if Elisha didn’t go out to meet him you can guarantee there was a good reason, a God reason!
As Naaman is storming off back to his homeland of Aram, his servants come up to him and say something pretty profound. “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he only tells you, “Wash and be clean”?. This must have really rocked Naaman’s world because he went from running off in a fit to going down to the Jordan and doing as Elisha had instructed. When he did, the command Elisha gave came to pass, he was made clean. In fact the Word says his skin became like that of a small boy, in other words…perfect. This is something else that kind of gives me a “Woah” moment. Despite the fact that Naaman stormed off away from the answer God had given, the promise, the command, the miracle, wasn’t rendered void. God didn’t say, “Well, too bad so sad. You didn’t do what I asked the first time so you’re outta luck buddy!”. No, His word remained and His promise sustained until the time that Naaman became obedient to the command of the Lord. I don’t know about you but this makes me feel so much better. I mean, I want to always get and obey what He says the first time but man! I’m hard headed sometimes!
That brings me to the point of my post, so simple, so difficult. Why is it that we think that only if we do something grand or news worthy is it worth it? Why do we not want to take ownership and passionately pursue the mundane things (at least mundane in our opinion)? We see no pleasure or purpose in the small things. The simplest things are often times the most difficult to will ourselves to do. Why can’t raising my kids to be Godly men and women be enough? Why can’t that be God’s highest calling for my life? Or the little old man who stands on the street corner holding a sign that says “Jesus loves you!”…why can’t he be a giant in the eyes of everyone…in his own eyes? What happens if no one does the simple? In a society that values nearly everything the Word says is worthless, how can we as God pursuers protect the call of the little things? I think the answer is in Naaman’s story. We have to be reminded that, if we are willing to do the great thing, why not also be willing to do the small thing?
How do we get reminded of that? Read the Word, don’t just talk in your prayer time but actually take time to be silent and listen to what the Holy Spirit would say…He still speaks to us you know. I heard a clip of a message by Craig Groeschel this week and he said “God whispers because He is close.”. #mindblown Seriously! Even cooler…it doesn’t matter how far you feel you are from Him…He’s still close enough that He can whisper to you anytime He chooses.
God, help me to have compassion even when the situation doesn’t warrant it by the natural eye. Help me to be happily compliant in everything you ask me to do. Help me to be persistent in all You ask of me. Help me not to let distraction and temptation get in the way of doing what You want me to do. Help me to be obedient to do the simple things, to be fulfilled by doing whatever it is, whether great or small, that you ask me to do. Help me to be just as excited and passionately pursue the small things you ask of me as well as the great. God, help me to hear Your whispers and to not make the simple things difficult.
Read it all here: 2 Kings 5