Your healing or blessing may come in ways you least expect or that which you are likely to frown upon.
Naaman lost his temper when he was sent a message by the prophet Elisha to go and immerse himself seven times in the river Jordan. He lost his temper and turned on his heel saying “ I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot; and get rid of the disease.” 2 Kings 5:11 (MSG).
Pride and egocentrism came into play, reflecting back on where he is coming from, what he is accustomed to in comparison to what is presently offered, and he went on to say, “The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers of Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” and stomped off mad as a hornet (5:12)
We may not be able to relate to being washed in the Jordan River but what is God asking of you that you are struggling to respond to? ‘Why should you put up with mediocrity to gain your healing or stability? I am accustomed to giving myself the best – How dare you offer me McDonalds when I have eaten at the Ritz?
At times we look to God to do something hard and heroic than in the simple ‘wash and be clean’.
But God is so patient with us, allowing us time to vent our anger, shout and scream, frightened of being stripped of our accolades, the very thing that will accomplish our healing and bring us into being, experiencing life in the Spirit. Paul’s experience of Jesus on the road to Damascus cause a radical re-ordering of everything he believed and was thus able to receive a huge change of life – a change by which he came to worship and preach Christ crucified – to know only Christ, and him crucified. –(1 Cor 2:2) – James Alison – Knowing Jesus.
Rowan Williams states, “Life in the Spirit is life beyond the boundaries erected between ourselves and each other and ourselves and God (even, it is tempting to add, between ourselves and ourselves), since the divine Spirit, we are told, draws out of us what we did not know we desired (Rom 8:26)
Being asked to dip himself in the dirty Jordan was Naaman desert of despair– the place where we watch one action replay after another of those grievances we accuse of causing our collapse. The desert of despair is also the place where God smiles on us, presses the pause button, gives short-term, manageable goals, reveals that the feelings and the facts do not necessarily coincide and re-commissions and enlightens the ‘honourably wounded. (Joyce Huggett – Formed by the Desert)
Incidentally this was the same river that Jesus later baptised in and his glory was revealed -where John the Baptist bore record of Jesus as the Son of God and the Lamb of God.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.(Matt 3: 13, 16-17)
So what was it that made Naaman changed his mind and did as Elisha commanded. Was it the just the statement from his servants or a movement of an inner restlessness and emptiness which disturb his peace, tranquillity and joy?
“So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the River Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man, His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby, He was good as new.” ( 2 Kings 5:14)
We know by faith that we can find God present in all things. He is present in all the events and dimensions of our lives but the question is, has the awareness of his presence in our lives really taken hold of us? The desert is also a place of miracle, transforming us and opening our eyes to the wonder of who God is, the God with whom nothing is impossible, the God of surprises. Allow God to reveal to you the ‘Miracle in the moment’ – seeing his workings through your present situation.
The challenges to Christianity, such as science, history or other religions increases the need for radical trust, the willingness to be led by human knowledge ( a person who God has placed into our lives – a priest – an Elisha) and by God into the wilderness of the unknowing, not-knowing, and discovering that what we might prefer to avoid; truths that emerge from our unconscious mind, truths from the limitations and contradictions of human knowledge and truths about the God of mystery who reveals and yet conceals, who is both revealed and hidden. We must come to a place where we can trust that God is in both the intellectual and the emotional and elsewhere in the unknowing of the Spirit. (Spirituality for Passionate and Changing times – Carolyn M. Croft)
Recently I decided to take advantage of the benefits of the unemployed and receive free dental treatment by visiting the dentist to refit a crown (if possible) that I had done in 1988, 1 year after coming to England and due to my over-indulgence on chocolate. The original crown was the usual NHS silver one and I had this replaced a few years later with a white one for cosmetic purposes via my then dental cover. Obviously due to removing the original and replacing another it wasn’t as stable as the first and become loose as a result of another over-indulgence on toffees – that should tell you my vice. The dentist informed me of the various options including just filling the tooth with a white filling (Thank God!) which was the cheaper and better option but one that would save my original tooth even though it would leave a gap. I started to think of how this would affect my smile – the gap that is, but went for that option. He also advised me I could later consider a bridge but that would involve a lot of work , capping on of the teeth on the opposite side – a very expensive process. This may sound corny but on reflecting on the whole situation I thought how at times we will have to settle for the unknown, the least expensive but the more stable, however hard that may seem. It was also the gap that identified the need for a bridge even if this means future investment. In the meantime, I am still smiling:-)
“Life itself and the Christian life even more intensely, is a journey into the unknown which is yet well-known, into God who is the other, yet one of us, and within us. My opposites are to be held together in tension; the ultimate opposites, God and self, are to be bridged in that union with God to which we are called and for which we are created, redeemed and sanctified…leading us “from glory into glory” and from mystery into mystery…We are called to risk exploration, to becoming increasingly co-creators with God; we are given identity without boundary as a grace to expand us”.(Spirituality for Passionate and Changing times – Carolyn M. Croft)
So let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so deeply entangles (Hebrews 12:1) and this includes pride; keeping our eyes on Jesus – not where you are coming from or the benefits of your former life. Jesus never lost sight of where he was headed and so he could put up with anything along the way – the cross, shame; the long litany of hostility he went through. Now he is in the place of honour right alongside God -the Father.
So let us not grow weary or lose heart like Naaman, comparing our present situation to our former life. Develop a radical trust for God in your situation, listen to the person God has placed in your life in directing you (although this will require some discernment), exercise humility without allowing yourself to be exploited or as we would say in Jamaica ‘to be taken advantaged of’ ; and in obedience submit to the Master’s plan allowing him reveal to you the miracle of the moment!
Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Saviour,
and my hope is in you all day long.
- “The Bible in Contemporary Language , The Message” – Eugene. H.Petersen
- “God of Surprises” – Gerard Hughes
- “To stand Where Christ Stands” (pg 2)– Rowan Williams
- “Formed by the desert, Heart –to-Heart encounters with God “ – Joyce Huggett
- The (NIV) Study Bible
- “Knowing Jesus” – James Alison
- “Spirituality for Passionate and Changing times” – Carolyn M. Croft
(KMRoach – unedited) 07/03/2012