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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 183: The humility of obedience

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 5-8

Naaman's story has been a favorite of mine since my days in Sunday School. A great man, a great warrior, a great captain of an army is "struck down" by an incurable disease.

A servant girl who has heard about the prophet summons the courage to speak and hope for healing.

With great regalia, Naaman comes before the king. The king cannot cure him, but sends him to the prophet. Elisha does not even honor this captain with his presence, but through a servant, tells the man to was seven times to receive healing.

Naaman, a commander, is full of pride. Could not the prophet come and speak to me? Could not there be a big show? Could not the rivers I know create the same effect?

Often, what we want from God is shrouded by our own whims and wishes. God says, Go and do this. We protest. We want the course of our salvation to be framed to our pleasing. We think we know best. We think our ideas which milk our pride sound more rational and reasonable.

In this story, it is the servants whose lives depend upon immediate and specific obedience, who are the heroes. They understand that they are in no position to argue with the commander, the master. They share their wisdom with one who has been full of himself.

Naaman finally is enlightened, and with his humility comes obedience. With obedience comes healing.

This commander stands counter to the commander who meets Jesus. The man in charge of a legion of soldiers begs the Holy One of Israel to heal his son. He has no preset plan. In fact, he says, "Just say the word and my son will be healed." This man understands obedience. He says, "I say to my servant, 'Go!' and he goes." Surely the King of the Universe can execute his plans according to his whims.

So God says, "You want to be clean? You want to be forgiven? You want eternal life? Believe in my Son and the work of salvation given freely to you on the cross."

And we argue.


We need to listen to the servants among us who call us to humble obedience.

And by the way, just like Elisha, God will not receive pay for the healing. It is free.

It is grace.

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