As long as I live there will be something worth fighting for, worth writing for, and worth dying for.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Customized Faith

Journey with me as we meet Naaman, a character in one of my newfound favorite Bible stories. It's funny how, we sometimes read the Bible like we read the newspaper- just skimming for the latest gossip or the most interesting headline, forsaking the rest. Then, later, when some news comes up we wonder why we didn't know. Is it because we didn't have the information? No. It's because we didn't deam that information important.

The same thing happens with the Bible. In the middle of the Noahs, Jonah, Davids and Joshuas, we miss some of the 'smaller stories'- Rahab, Gideon, and Naaman.

I came across this story in my Bible reading last week. I am embarking on a journey to read my Bible through for the second time from cover to cover. Believe me, there are "dry" days- and he died...and he begat... and he died...begat...died...begat...died- I still haven't figured out how to apply that to my life. But, there are days I find little treasures and that makes all of the 'extra searching' well worth it.

We meet Naaman in 2 Kings, chapter 5. In fact, his name is the second word of that chapter.

"Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable , because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour..."

This story kinda pops out of the middle of nowhere. It actually follows right on the heals of an Old Testament version of the feeding of the five thousand (honestly, how many of you knew there was one of those?). In these first few words we are introduced to a man who is fairly impressive. He was a big boss in Syria- noble, respected, in good standing with the king, strong, brave. This guy was pretty important stuff, but did you notice the little "..."?

...but he was a leper .

That, my friends, is a problem.

As God would have it, there is a Israelite maid in Naaman's household who says one day, "Man! I wish that Mr. Naaman was with that prophet in Samaria because he could heal Mr. Naaman from his leprosy" (paraphrase, for those of you wondering). The grapevine reaches Naamana and he gets all excited and tells the king (remember, they are friends), and the king of Syria sends word to the king of Israel inquiring about how to make this possible.

Well, the King of Israel is a bit slow on the upbeat. He spazzes thinking that this is some precursor to war. (Talk about a lack of faith!) Well, Elisha (the aforementioned prophet) hears that the king is having an issue and send him a message (paraphrase again), "What is your problem?! Send him to me and I will show him that there is a God in Israel." Happily the king sends Namaan on his way.

Elisha doesn't even come out and speak with Naaman. Elisha sends a messenger to Naaman to instruct him to go dunk himself in the Jordan seven times. Naaman is probably insulted- after all, he is some top-ranking official in his home country. He is obviously upset. If you read through the chapter, Naaman wanted a show.

He wanted Elisha to come out, call upon God and do a song and a dance and cure Naaman. That's what Naaman wanted. Easy, breezy, done. Instead, he gets instructions to wash in Jordan, which make him mad and send him on his way back home. If I want to take a bath I'll take one in the clean rivers back home.

Praise the Lord for Naaman's servants who stop him and try to reason with him.

My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash , and be clean ?

That is the verse that just jumped off the page as I read this. They were saying, "Listen, if Elisha had asked you to go drink snake venom or go do something extraordinary, would you have done it? So, why are you mad that all he is saying is wash and be clean?" Naaman listened, dunked in Jordan, and walked away knowing that there was a God.

There are so many ties you can make from this story. The one that jumps out to me the most is the idea of a 'boring faith.'

How often do we wish we were the other guy? I have been following up on a young woman named Katie, who moved (not went short-term as a missionary- she straight up moved) to Uganda when she was in her early 20s and now, probably in her mid-late twenties is the mother of 14 beautiful girls in Uganda- orphans that God has given her. When I see things like that, there are times when I think, "Now God, why can't You give me that assignment? Seriously! Give me something big. Something with 'GOD' stamped all over it. Give me a big faith!"

And sometimes He does. We all have those Abraham-Isaac, David-Goliath, Daniel-Lions moments in our lives, but more often than not, we have a Naaman-Jordan moment. It's a surety that the whole world isn't going to know about our Naaman-Jordan moment. It won't make the headline of any newspaper. It won't gain applause or recognition. It may even seem stupid and insignificant, but it is no less important.

It's hard, at least for me, to be faithful in those Naaman-Jordan moments. I will catch myself thinking, "God, if you called me to China, I would go. I surrender to Your will for my life." But what if His will for my life has nothing to do with China? What if His will for your life has nothing to do with spiritual extravagance? What if His will for your life is as simple as sharing the Gospel with the gas station attendant? When He prompts you, do you listen or do you scoff and say, "Pssh! That's nothing important."

We have to learn to be faithful in the little things. You know, there was a degree of faith exhibited by Naaman. He had no reason to believe that the murky waters of the Jordan could cure his leprousy. He dipped his toe in that water in faith. This man of great renown bathed in a dirty river- that was his Isaac moment, his fiery furnace moment, his Goliath moment.

How our faith works out will be different for each of us. Katie's faith seems so much stronger than mine, but that isn't necessarily true just because she has landed herself in Uganda. Uganda is where her faith has led her. My faith will not lead me there, but it will lead me somewhere.

Whether in Uganda or sitting in a college classroom, we are called to be faithful. Whether your faith leads you to pioneer some mission field or leads you to raise a family (or maybe both!) God does not ask for a song and a dance, He simply asks that you trust Him.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Thank you for this post! It's good to be reminded that our Naaman-Jordan moments (even though not as flashy) can be just as defining as our David-Goliath ones. We simply need to be faithful to do what God asks.