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Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a brave warrior responsible for winning many victories for his king, but he was a leper. An captured Israeli servant girl knew of Elisha the prophet and the miracles he had performed in the name of his God Yahweh, and she told Naaman’s wife about it. The word eventually came to the king who gave Naaman permission to travel to Elisha in Israel in the hope of finding a healing. When he finally caught up with Elisha he nearly missed his opportunity because of his preconception about how such a healing ought to take place. Naaman’s words were, “He will surely come out and stand and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease.” (2 Kings 5,v.1) Only that wasn’t the way it happened at all, instead Elisha didn’t come out at all but sent word that he should wash seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman wondered why he couldn’t have bathed in “better” rivers in Damascus, his own land. He was enraged and stomped away. His pride had been hurt that his case hadn’t even merited a personal face to face visit with Elisha. But was he there after all for healing, or had he come all that way to have his ego petted? His servants began to reason with him that had some great thing been asked of him, he would surely have done it. To Naaman’s credit he humbled himself and listened to reason, even the reason of servants. It was a servant after all who knew of Elisha to begin with and and had offerred her master some hope. Perhaps Naaman had been prepared to do some great feat to earn his healing. Bur simply submerging in what he considered an inferior little river didn’t seem like enough. But when he proceeded to do it, he was immediately healed! He had positioned and “lowered himself” literally to receive a gift that couldn’t be paid for, something he later tried to do anyway, but Elisha refused. The idea of grace was slowly sinking into the thinking of Naaman. Hopefully it is also sinking ever more deeply into our thinking too. Hopefully we won’t allow any disappointment or misconception of our own about how God’s wonders should unfold shortcircuit the blessing or the gift God wants us to receive. May we humble ourselves like Naaman and listen to the suggestions and reasonings of God’s servants while there’s still time.
I once made a long trip to the ministry site of a well known man of God. I was hoping to meet him personally but was denied that opportunity. Maybe he was having a bad day, or maybe he was terribly busy that afternoon. I felt great disappointment and, rightly or wrongly, lost some respect for that ministry on that day, it was never the same to me after that. The person he sent in his place was gracious enough, and the staffmembers I did meet were bright and honest that all was not perfect in the camp. There was good interaction, and maybe there was more I could have given and received had I been more open to what did unfold, instead of holding to my preconception of how it ought to have been. Sometimes we are required to extend the benefit of the doubt to others, or, to put it even more aptly, the benefit of THE FAITH.
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