Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Limits of Power

One of the more interesting stories in the Bible is the story of a man named Naaman. He was an official in a foreign land who was living with a terrible skin disease. One of his servants told him there was a God in Israel who could heal him, so they set out to be healed. When Naaman finds the prophet, the prophet gives him the most basic, unglorified instructions for healing in all of Scripture - go and wash in the river 7 times - and Naaman protests. Then, his servant says to him, "But if he had asked you to do some grand and glorious and difficult thing, wouldn't you have gladly done it?" 

And that's often what we take away from this story, as well we should. I have had a number of Naaman moments in my life, moments that seemed too easy. But then, that's the grace of God, isn't it? It just seems too easy. If it were more difficult, it seems it'd be easier to do somehow. 

But there's a part of this story that we often read right past, and it's important, too. Especially in a day and age where we worship power and authority and celebrity.

You see, when Naaman comes to Israel, he goes straight to the king. This makes sense. Since Naaman is an official in his own land, he comes to the official in the other land. He comes bearing a letter from his own king, requesting his healing and giving him the authority to ask for it. Politics, you know. Always politics. 

When Israel's king reads the letter and hears Naaman's request - this official of another kingdom - he freaks out. He starts worrying, severely. He tears his robes and cries out, asking this Naaman just how he thinks the king is. Is he God? Can he heal anyone? 

It seems like a setup. It seems like something fishy is afoot. A foreign king sends his servant to Israel's king to be healed, but Israel's king knows he can't heal anyone. If he fails to heal the servant, however, then what will happen to his kingdom? The other king will come and attack! He'll claim betrayal or something! He'll rally the troops and exact vengeance on Israel's failure to act! This couldn't be a bigger disaster, not only for the king but for his kingdom! 

It doesn't seem to occur to the king at all that he doesn't have to personally heal this man. It doesn't seem to occur to him that there might be someone in his kingdom who is capable of doing what he is incapable of doing. It doesn't occur to him to ask anyone else for advice or suggestions. It doesn't even occur to him to think about the God of his land, the Lord Himself, who might be able to do this. 

All he's thinking about is his own inability. After all, he's the king. He is the seat of unlimited power and authority; he should be able to do all things.

But he can't do this.

It takes a servant to say, wait a second. There's a man of God here. He can probably do it. What you need is not power, but prophecy, and I know just where to get it. 

Read that again - what you need is not power, but prophecy. Not authority, but truth. Not politics, but faithfulness.

How easy it is for us to forget that there is a God in our land, in our hearts, in our souls who is able to do immeasurably more than we are able to do. We think we always have to act out of who we are, our own power and authority, our own skills and abilities, but really? Really what we need is His. 

Not politics, but faithfulness. 

So before you tear your robe and cry out about your own insufficiencies, ask yourself this: is there someone else who can do it? Someone else capable of what you are incapable of? Is there a God in the land who is a Healer? Send for Him. Seek Him. Ask Him. 

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