Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Simple Ain't Easy

Yesterday, I used the story of Naaman (n-a-(any)-man) from 2 Kings to propose that often, God asks us to do not the grand things, but the simple things.  

At this point, you're probably thinking, "God's never asked me to do anything easy!"

No.  I didn't say easy; I said simple.  And there is the difference.

It was simple for Naaman to wash in the Jordan River, but it wasn't easy.  The Jordan, Naaman complained, was not the best water around (probably because of all those dirty Israelites bathing in it).  He named two other rivers, from his own nation, with much better water.  Two other rivers, from his own nation, where the people on the banks would already know him.  Two other rivers where he wouldn't have to tell his story, and he wouldn't be ostracized as unclean.  Because in his nation, they didn't have such a thing as unclean.  Under his god, his skin disease meant little.  We know because he was married, living with his wife and servants, just before he set off to visit the prophet.  In Israel, he would have been outside the camp.

Which is maybe why he didn't have a high opinion of the Jordan, a river in Israel.  God's people would be there; they would see him as unclean.  They might scoff at him, might turn their backs.  They might walk away.  There might be a few who would try to keep him out of the river so that he wouldn't contaminate the water for the rest of them.  There would be a few who would have a thousand questions about who he was, where he came from, and what gave him the right to wash in their river.

Washing in the Jordan was simple, but it wasn't easy.

I woke up this morning thinking about this post and thinking about that verse where Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep.  (John 21)  And I woke up laughing.  Because it seems simple enough - feed My sheep.  It was a ministry for which Peter had been training for three years with the Messiah.  

But do you realize how many sheep Jesus had?  How many He still has?  Peter probably felt honored to have such a commission from Jesus.  Maybe after years of traveling the land, he had some measure of confidence in his abilities to minister.  He had, after all, been sent out before; this was just another, albeit bigger, sending.  And then Peter blinked and opened his eyes to see the sheer (get it?  shear?) quantity of sheep in Jesus' field.

Simple.  But not easy.

It was simple, but not easy, for the widow to drop two pennies into the collection box.  It was simple, but not easy, for the disciples to abandon their nets and go fishing for men.  It was simple, but not easy, for the rich young ruler to sell all he had for the sake of eternity.  If it had been easy, he would have done it.  But he walked away.

Because God doesn't ask us to do what's easy.  He asks us to do what's simple, knowing it may be the hardest thing He ever asks of us.

He asks for the simple because He knows we can.  Naaman can wash in the Jordan.  Peter can feed His sheep.  The widow can give two pennies.  The disciples can let go of their nets.  The rich young ruler can sell all he has.  God never wants us to question for one second whether we can do what He asks.  It would be unfair if He did.

No, He only asks us to consider whether we will.  And that's not always an easy question.

Saying yes to God means saying no to something else.  Doing what God asks of you means not doing what may seem wise to man.  Going where God asks you to go may take you off the map of charted territories you've built your life around.  Choosing to trust is choosing against fear.  Choosing to forgive is choosing against bitterness.  Choosing to love is choosing against hate.  These are not easy choices, at least not in my human heart.  How about yours?

Naaman (N-a-(any)-man) can do anything (Naathing?) for God.  It's fairly simple.

But will he?  That's not so easy.

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