How would you feel after coming a long way to see a Doctor for a nasty condition; knowing that the Doctor was a specialist in it, and instead of giving you some amazing new experimental pill for it — he proceeds to tell you straight faced while you are looking at him with a dead blank stare in disbelief — to take a bath? You would probably think he was NUTS.
Well… this sort of thing actually happened to a person in the bible. I haven’t heard his story told very often, but it is a gem in my eyes. I would like to share it with you. It is the story of Naaman, and it goes like this.
Naaman was the Commander of the Army to the King of Aram. His reputation was great, and he was highly regarded by his King. Though his victories were somewhat mythical in nature. He was yet a man. His military prowess could not protect him from a common aliment of the time in which he lived, that being leprosy. He had it, and he wanted OUT.
At his house, he had a young girl from Israel who was a servant to his wife. The wife would hear her speak of a great prophet who lived in Samaria. She would say to the wife,
If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.2 Kings 5:3, NIV
When Naaman heard about this apparent miracle worker – he went on the camel express to the ancient world’s best dermatologist: “Dr. Elisha.” =D
After taking a leave of absence from the King, Naaman went to the land of Israel with many gifts for Elisha. Before he left with the king’s blessing though… the king sent a letter to the king of Israel saying that he was sending Naaman to him in order that his condition would be cured.
The King of Israel had a royal wigout to be honest (pun intended). For it was common in those days for the nation of Israel to war with other nations. Perceiving Naaman coming as an act of war (I feel), the king tore his clothes and said,
Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!2 Kings 5:7, NIV
Elisha heard about this meltdown and he told the king to relax. He told him something to the effect of,
Why have you ripped up yo clothes man? Have the dude come to me. He is gonna know that there is a prophet round here. (Thunderclap heard in background).Paraphrase of 2 Kings 5:8. Hehe.
Finally… Naaman arrived at the house of Elisha, and it was no palace, but it was home. As he probably smelled lamb cooking from inside of the house, Naaman knocked. Instead of meeting Elisha – he was greeted by Elisha’s messenger. He waited for the words of relief. Would he be cured right there and then?
Naaman, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan river. You will then be clean, and your flesh made pure.Paraphrase of 2 Kings 5:10
Did I just hear a jaw drop on the floor? Yes… yes I did. Right there, I have no doubt Naaman was thinking something to the tune of “Did I REALLY come all this way only to hear that I need a BATH?!” Yes Naaman, that just happened.
I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.2 Kings 5:11, NIV
His servants consoled him and told him,
Master, if Elisha had told you to do something grand, wouldn’t you have done it in no time flat? How much easier is it then to obey him when he says ‘Wash and be healed’!Paraphrase of 2 Kings 5:13
They were right.
Swallowing his pride and bruised ego, he listened to Elisha. He dipped himself in the Jordan river seven times. And… his flesh was completely healed, like that of a young lad. BOOM! Cannonball of celebration!
After this Naaman and his posse went back to Elisha. Naaman said to him,
Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.2 Kings 5:15, NIV
Elisha politely declined… though Naaman steadfastly insisted that he take the gifts. Naaman relented and replied,
If you will not accept these gifts… please your servant be take as much dirt as a pair of mules can carry (for it is holy ground) for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord of Israel. May the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When the King enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also — please entreat the Lord on behalf of his servant — your servant, for forgiveness on this count.Paraphrase of 2 Kings 5:17-18 from NIV
Elisha told him to leave in peace. Which he did.
There are some other details in the story. But for brevity’s sake, it will serve to know that Elisha had a servant named Gehazi, and this dude was a little SNEAK. He lied to Naaman in order to get some of the goodies that he brought with him, and Gehazi put them in his house.
Elisha asked him where had he been, and he said that he was in town the whole time. Elisha went,
NA UH MAN! I saw you when Naaman got off of his chariot. This ain’t the time to accepting money, or bling bling that strikes yo fancy! Whatever Naaman had is on you now. Snap boom diggity!Of course, he didn’t say it like this… but you get the picture. =D
Fun aside, this story is beautiful to me for the following reasons: it shows our usual reaction to listening to God’s way of doing things; it shows how even if we listen begrudgingly to him he is faithful and just to complete what he says, and even if his way sounds crazy – we would be crazy for not taking his advice.
God’s words fly so completely against the grain of what people think is right, and even if they don’t think something is right… they do the deed anyway because it is the norm. Though they are left bleeding in the commission of the action, as long as it is normal to expect that as a result of doing it — it is done regardless. How sad.
It is true — more often than not — that we have to do things at a loss. Sometimes, we have to lose a relationship for the good of our psyches. Sometimes, we have to work somewhere else because things are not working out at our jobs. Both involve relationships, and both involve change where we lose something… in order to gain something better than before hopefully; yet still, we do NOT have to deal with these changes, and the actions that we need to take to get somewhere else poorly.
Is it tempting to just not care? OH YES IT IS. I would never pretend that it is not. Surely, it is easier to care less because we don’t have to put further thought towards how to do the “caring” thing (whatever that may be), and we can surrender and relent to apathy – but how satisfying is that? Speaking for myself, I have had many a bullet hole in my spirit from going about things like this. I have done it too. It isn’t worth the regret, and it is not “just the way it is.” Damn that. NO THANK YOU. God help me!
Just as Naaman’s solution for his condition was dealing with it in an unconventional way (God’s way)… it was the right way. When the world would say “don’t care”, and “let it go to ashes and mist…(if they read more Milton and Shakespeare)” THINK TWICE. It isn’t crazy to care. It’s crazy to be careless. Just look where that eventually brings some psychopaths – to prisons; to early graves; to receiving injuries, and to eventual nothingness.
Care ye Beloved of God, for Christ cares for you, and though it may be hard to do the right thing. He will be there at the beginning, the during, and the end of you doing it. He’ll be standing there with you, with his arms wide open to receive you in joint victory over the evil, and the spoils of the war shall be yours to keep and share.
To share forevermore, as proof of the Life, and of the Power of the Blood of the Lamb; as a testimony to the care of Christ, and of his blessings of happiness and peace — given to all who trust in his Name. Yes, even if the only reward received is peace for one’s soul — better that than infernal and internal WAR (which will leave you RAW).
I hope that these words encourage you to trust in Christ’s Faith, his Faith in you, his Hope, and his Love. Keep on caring. Keep on doing the right thing. It is the hard thing, yet Jesus is always there at the ready — to be of assistance to all they who love righteousness, and to they that desire to change things for the better.
Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.2 Chronicles 16:8-9, NASB
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your time.