Perhaps what seems so difficult to us in terms of what God requires is that these stories we're looking at are far beyond our understanding. It doesn't seem reasonable that God would ask us to dress for battle and go out to a field somewhere to see a war. It doesn't seem reasonable that we would have to sojourn into the land of Israel to visit one specific river. Actually, it's exactly the kind of thing most of us are afraid God will ask of us, to go well beyond our own borders just to find Him.
But that's not the case at all.
The battle for which Israel dressed was a battle in their own territory; the hill to which they were called was their own hill. It wasn't a journey away. It wasn't some distant place. And even the whole idea of battle was not so far-fetched; at the time, Israel was a people at war. Battle was just part of their daily existence. So when God asks them to dress for battle, it's not so strange a command. He's merely asking them to do something they've done on countless other occasions, something that is very close at hand for them. There was not a man in Israel who did not have his battle attire close.
And when He asks them to go out to the hill, neither is this so unreasonable, for it was, after all, their hill. Not only was it their hill, but it was a hill where their enemy armies were camping against them. The most natural thing in all the world for a people at war to do is to dress for battle and go out to where their enemies are staking them out. This is all that God asks them to do. It's not such a big thing as it seems to us who know neither wars nor hills.
When Naaman comes to the prophet Elisha in Israel and is told to go wash himself in the Jordan, we get this image in our head of a long journey to a foreign land to a specific place of water. Naaman helps to create this impression by talking about all of the different waters that already flow where he lives and the waters that he passed to get to the prophet in the first place. And it makes the Jordan seem so very far away.
But Naaman was already in Israel. He's already come this far to seek out the prophet of the Lord, who he had heard could heal him. God is not asking him to go somewhere further away; He is asking the man to go all in on the distance he has already traveled. You're already here, Naaman - wash in this river? It's just another mile or two down the road, which in essence means, it's right here.
The truth is that as much as we fear that God is going to require some incredible feat or some amazing distance from us for us to see His glory, the very best place for us to see it is right where we are.
All we have to do are the things we ought to be doing anyway, going all in on the distances we've already traveled.
It takes almost nothing at all to carve out ten minutes of your day, right where you are, to read the Scriptures. God doesn't ask you to go back to school, to become a scholar, to learn all of the original languages and begin translating the Scriptures for yourself. He just asks you to read them the same way you read the TV guide and your Facebook feed and a thousand texts a day.
It's simple to begin to pray, right where you are, the way that God commands of you. You don't have to be eloquent. You don't have to be authoritatively religious. You don't need a booming voice or a perfect heart; you just need yourself. You're already talking all day, already loving the sound of your own voice and the image that your project. Just look at your social media. God just asks you to take some of your talking and do it with Him.
It's not hard at all to find a church and start attending, right where you are. You probably drove or walked past at least a dozen just yesterday. You don't have to have all the doctrine right. You don't have to know all the words to all the songs. You don't have to dress up or dress down or whatever. You just have to go, the same way that you make time each week to go to the grocery store or to have dinner with family or friends or to sit out on the patio and soak in the last of the day's warm glow.
God's not asking us to do anything crazy, and He's not asking us to go somewhere far away. He's asking us to be faithful right where we are with the resources that we already have in our lives. Yet somehow, we, as a people, are so scared of the big things that God might ask of us that we don't even try to do the little things, which is really all that He requires.
It was a little thing for Israel to dress for and go to the battle they were already engaged in. It was a little thing for Naaman, who had already come to the land of Israel, to wash in the river that was right there. It's such a little thing for you to pick up your Bible, fall to your knees, and find a community right where you are. Especially when what's at stake is your chance to see the glory of God.
So...why aren't you doing it?