Monday, April 15, 2013


I think I just found myself in the Bible.  Only back then, some misinformed divinely-inspired author decided to change my name to Naaman.  Or maybe they knew this story was just about all of us and decided to call him "N-A (any) - Man."  

The story is recorded in 2 Kings 5.  It is the story of the prophet Elisha and a man with a skin disease, Naaman.  Here is the story:

Naaman, the commander of the Aramean king's army, was respected and highly honored by his master.  The Lord had given Aram a victory through Naaman.  This man was a good soldier, but he had a skin disease.  Once, when the Arameans went on raids, they had brought back a little girl from Israel.  She became the servant of Naaman's wife.  The girl told her mistress, 'If only my master were with the prophet in Samaria.  Then the prophet could cure him of his skin disease.'  Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said.  ...Naaman came with his horses and chariot and stopped at the entrance to Elisha's home.  Elisha sent a messenger to him.  He said, 'Wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River, and your skin will be healthy and clean.'  But Naaman became angry and left.  He said, 'I thought he would at least come out of his house, stand somewhere, call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the infected place, and heal the skin disease.  The Abana And Pharpar Rivers in Damascus have better water than any of the rivers in Israel.  Couldn't I wash in them and be clean?'  So he turned around and left in anger.

Here, I take pause.  And laugh.  Because this is me, and I'm willing to bet it's quite a few of you, too.  When I want God, when I call on God, when I journey to God and lay something before Him, not only do I expect Him to answer in goodness and grace, but I kind of want a show out of it.  

I want the thunder and lightning.  I want the earth shaking.  I want the curtains torn.  I want the rainbow.  I want the flower.  I want this wholly-other holy experience that captivates all of my senses and takes me beyond this place into another realm entirely where God demonstrates His awesome and absolute power over everything, defies the laws of physics (or at least plays with them a little), manifests a miracle, and makes a spectacle of the whole thing.  I mean, what good is God if He's not also really cool about being God?

And if He would come...if He would thunder in, flash in lightning, shake the earth, cast the rainbow, whatever...I would do just about anything for my God.  (I'd say "anything," but I'm being honest - "just about anything.")  I would go along with His show, be the willing audience member called up on stage, take part in the scene for the sake of the spectacle.  It would be epic.

You know, that mystical, magical "Abba"-kadabra moment.

Again, I'm not alone.  Back to the story:

But Naaman's servants went to him and said, 'Master, if the prophet had asked you to do some extraordinary act, wouldn't you have done it? (Exactly.)  Why shouldn't you do as he said: 'Wash and be clean'?'  (Emphasis mine.)

It's a tough concept for someone waiting on the magic moment.  It's tough to think God might not come in the thunder and lightning we want.  It's tough to imagine He wouldn't want to make such a show of it, wouldn't want it to be a scene.  It's tough to grasp the concept that maybe what God wants from us are the simple things.  And I mean really simple things.

Naaman is covered by a skin disease.  He is unclean and God's remedy is to...take a bath.  That's kind of my go-to when I'm unclean.  I bathe, and that takes care of the problem.  Simple things.

You worry about not having enough money, holding onto your last two pennies.  And God says the answer to both your worry and your finances is to invest.  Give your money to something that will grow it (the widow chose His Kingdom).  Simple things.

You're thirsty and the well, and the women, are a burden  God says to drink.  Living water.  Simple things.

Who among us doesn't know how to bathe, to invest, to drink?  Yet when God says this is what we should do, we balk.  I mean, He could have at least waved His hand around a little.  He could have stretched out His arms and demonstrated He was doing something here.  He could have thundered in the name of the Lord.  For Heaven's sake...where is our Abba-kadabra?

He's here.  In the waters of the Jordan, where He sent you to wash.  In the pennies in the plate, that He sent you to invest.  In the living water by the well, where He invited you to drink.  He's not into all that magic; He's more interested in the simple things.

If we could ever get those right, if we could settle into the simple, if we could embrace the very real, very simple, very plain things God is asking us to do, I think that ironically, we would find more of the miraculously magical God we think we're looking for.

Our God refuses to make a show of Himself; He's a quiet kind of Guy.  But He has never neglected simply to show Himself.  If only we look where He's shown us to look, do what He's asked us to do, and go where He's sent us to go.  Even if it seems simple.  Really simple.

So [Naaman] went to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times, as the man of God had instructed him.  His skin became healthy again like a little child's skin.

It's the story of Naaman, but isn't it really n-a-(any)-man?  I know it's me.  Is it you?

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