SpiritWalkers

 

2 Kings 5:11:ďBut Naaman became angry and went away, saying, ĎI thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy!Ē

 

Please donít get so turned off by the war and the bloodshed that you stop reading the Old Testament, because there are so many wonderful stories woven throughout.This story of Elisha and an Aramean army commander is one of them.It presents itself as a healing story.The commander, Naaman has leprosy.He doesnít indicate he sees any hope for his condition until a young slave girl speaks up.The girl is an Israelite, captured in one of Naamanís raids on Israel, and she serves Naamanís wife.This young slave tells Naaman that if he would go to Elisha, he could be cured.

 

So, first, thereís an act of grace.A girl who has been kidnapped and taken into slavery, seeks the healing of her master.Iím not sure thatís what I would have wished for him.Naaman listens to her, takes a pile of treasure to pay for Elishaís services, and heads off to see Elisha.When he gets there, Elisha hardly looks up.In fact, he doesnít see Naaman at all, only his messenger.Elisha tells the messenger to have Naaman wash in the Jordan seven times and that will do it.Youíd think Naaman would be getting to the river as quickly as possible.But he isnít.Heís mad.

 

In this moment, we see the overweening pride of this high-ranking official.Itís bad enough that heís gone to enemy territory as a supplicant, but he expected that the event of his healing should have as much pomp and circumstance as his office deserved.Elisha should be there personally, calling out on the name of God and essentially performing some obvious sign to enact the healingÖsomething that would allow others to see that he was favored in Godís eyes.

 

But no.Elisha just tells him to take a bath in the Jordan.Naaman is ready to go back home without his healing.ďHumphÖI could take a bath in Damascus,Ē he snorts.ďI donít need to come to this filthy place.ĒAgain, it is a servant who saves the day.The servant points out that if Elisha had asked him to do something really hard, he would have done it.Why does he refuse because itís easy?Again, Naaman listens to his servant, washes in the Jordan, and he is cured.And converted.He goes to Elisha, says he will no longer worship other gods, and presents his gifts.Elisha will not take them.Naaman goes home a cured, and changed, man.

 

Itís not really a healing story.Itís a fabulous story about humility and what it takes to let God work in our lives.Without the voice of his slaves, he neither would have known about Elisha nor obeyed his command.Statements by Jesus about the last being first come to mind.To his credit, Naaman listens to those voices.The slaves direct the master and the enemy provides the healing, which Naaman must accept as a gift.He canít show off his wealth by paying for it, he canít display his high rank in a public healing display.He must humble himself in the sight of the Lord, and with that he is lifted up a whole personÖboth physically and spiritually.

 

Thatís what it takes for us as well.Human rank makes no difference to God.In fact, it can get in the way.God doesnít offer healing only to those who have a Ph.D. or who run a business, or who have received worldly fame.God doesnít care.And God wonít take any payment for Godís work in our lives, except the allegiance of a loving heart.We will hear Godís voice coming from ďthe least of these,Ē and we might have to learn to love our enemies to find our wholeness.This story from the bloody Old Testament sounds to me like something that could have come directly from the lips of Jesus.It sounds like Gospel.

 

Godís grace is a gift.You canít pay for it with your good works or your wealth.You canít earn it with your status.You need only to leave all of that behind on the shore and enter the waters.

 

Help me to put my self-importance aside, God, and accept your gift.Amen.

 

 

 

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