Have you ever been given some advice that you knew was really good, but decided to just nod, say thanks and then not follow it?
Story of my life. I’ve written before about my stubborn streak and how much I love listening to other people. I also like sarcasm.
I was reading in 2 Kings today – by the way, the Old Testament is super rad – and was trying to make an intentional effort to learn something about God while reading. I think sometimes it’s easy for us to read just to find one little nugget to take away no matter what it’s about, but I really wanted to grasp something about God from my time in the Word this morning.
I read 2 Kings 5-6, and chapter five tells the story of Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria. He was well-regarded as a leader “because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria” (v. 1). He was a “mighty man of valor,” but he was also a leper. Leprosy, for those who don’t know, causes exterior disfigurations of the face and other skin, as well as a lack of ability to feel pain. In Hebrew society, lepers were outcasts, but in Syria things must have been different if Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Syria.
Back to the story. In one of Syria’s recent raids, they had captured a servant girl who worked in the house of the king of Israel. The servant girl said that there was a prophet in Samaria who could cure Naaman of his leprosy. So Naaman saddled up a crew and they went to Samaria. After getting turned away at the king of Israel’s gate, God’s prophet Elisha sent for Naaman and his crew to come to him. Verses 9-14:
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
One of the biggest struggles I face is taking God at His Word. Now, I know that it’s true and accurate and, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” I get it. I understand that to be true.
But sometimes I don’t feel it. To be honest, lots of times I don’t feel it. I can be a slave to my emotions, my attitude and my day hinging on how I feeling. There’s some of this that is good – emotions can be helpful, warning signs, encouragements, so on and so forth. But to be lead by emotion is a dangerous thing. We become like drunkards, speaking and acting at our own whimsy.
The story of Naaman proves one thing: Sometimes we see God’s answer to our issue and we get frustrated because it’s not what we thought it would be. But when we submit to His answer and His way, that’s when true healing comes.
I was reminded today that God’s Word is always beneficial and always profitable, no matter how I feel or how I initially react to it. It’s a pride thing, really. I think I’ve either got it all figured out or I’m just one breakthrough away from understanding it on my own. But instead, I need to submit myself to God’s truth each and every day.
It’s a grace-infused process because we won’t do that. We won’t ever really do what we need to. But God gives us the grace to give it another shot when we fail. When I look back at my life and realize all the times I haven’t taken God at His Word, I don’t have to sit in regret. I accept that I sinned, receive the grace and mercy that He’s given me through Jesus and move forward, giving it another shot. God is the God of 10,000 chances. And one of the many great things about God’s Word is that it never changes, it never alters. We don’t have to be rechecking Romans 8:1 every day to make sure that we’re still not condemned if we’re in Christ. We can trust it and believe it.
God desires the best for us, even if it’s leading us to something we don’t desire to do or don’t feel like doing, because He loves us and cares for us. God’s love for us is at the root of each and every action He takes and each and every word He says. That’s a huge concept we must grasp and wrestle with and believe. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Because of those things, we can take God at His Word. Each and every day. For the rest of eternity. Hallelujah. Can’t explain to you how that makes me feel. Overwhelmed by grace. Overwhelmed by love. Overwhelmed by my sinfulness and my mistakes. Overwhelmed by the fact that He cares for me enough to send His Word to me. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord.
Every time I get swayed by the temptations of this world, I can come back to the good God of the world who in His Word unconditionally tells me, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It might take six or seven dips in the water of His Word to get it, but each and every one is worth it.