Thursday, June 5, 2008

We have big 'buts' and I cannot lie...

The story of Naaman the leper in 2 Kings 5 has always held particular fascination for me. One of the reasons for my fascination is the slight language barrier I experienced when I first came to the USA. You see, I only speak English, and was completely unaware of the nuances of speaking 'American.' I remember preaching this message with great fervor and emphasizing that Naaman, as successful and celebrated as he was, had a 'but' in his life. You see, the Scriptures say "He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy." I proceeded to explain how we all have a 'but' in our lives. Some 'buts' are bigger than others... well, I'm sure you get the picture. Unfortunately I didn't get it until people were falling off their chairs, weeping with insane laughter, as I doggedly pressed home my point with gusto, emphasizing the word 'but.' How on earth was I supposed to know that in America, that word with an extra 'T' on the end meant something else.


Anyway, I digress. My real fascination with the story is actually the series of events that led up to his healing. Who would have thought that God's plan was to use a slave girl (prisoner of war) that worked for Naaman's wife, to lead Naaman to the place of his healing. Pride, indignation, anger, frustration were among the many emotions he experienced when Elisha the prophet didn't even see fit to come out and welcome the 'great' Naaman when he pulled up in his late model chariot. He threw an apoplectic fit when Elisha's servant further suggested that Elisha asked that Naaman go bathe in the Jordan. "The Jordan?? The filthy Jordan??? As if the rivers of Damascus are not bigger, better and cleaner than the Jordan, I had to come all this way to the home of a man who isn't even hospitable enough to come out and meet me, only to be told to go and wash in the Jordan?"

You'd have thrown a fit too if you'd been in Naaman's position. After all, he was the military commander that had defeated Israel in Syria's bid to overthrow and take control of that nation. Now he was faced with having to give in to one of two unsavory choices. Accept his fate and live with leprosy, or humble himself and bathe in a filthy river with no clear explanation as to why. What would he choose? The answer would lie in which one hurt more? His ego, having to deal with the perceived 'humiliation' of bathing in a filthy river, or his 'but,' having to deal with the social and medical stigma of leprosy? History records for us that he made the right choice. He bathed in the river and was completely and miraculously healed. His healing further led to his salvation. So, what's your 'but' and what are you going to do about it? Will you jump in the river or will you live with your 'but.' (pun intended)

4 comments:

Hope said...

What's my "but"? I trust God BUT sometimes the flesh in me manages to convince me that He wants to give His very best, BUT just not to me. I know that it's a lie, in my spirit BUT the flesh wants control. I know that there's an amount of trust that is deposited as we grow, guess I'll have to persevere. By the way, this November I'm going to Israel and I will be baptized in the Jordon, (just a sign to recommit - I know the first one took). :)

Joseph said...

Hope, thanks for sharing and for your vulnerability. You'll really enjoy the experience of being baptized in the Jordan. Make sure you get one of those certificates confirming that you did :)

fearfullymade said...

I remember an American friend once telling me her pants were wet, I sat there thinking "that's way too much information" until I realized she meant her trousers!!
Anyway, great, thought-provoking post!! I'm going to go away think about my 'but' (one t, of course, we call the 2 t version a bum where I'm from!!).

Joseph said...

Kamsin, I'm with you on that one. It makes life a whole lot easier not mixing up the words so that we can explicitly say what we mean. Just like calling a donkey an a**!!!