As I was reading about Elisha and Naaman, I found some unlikely encouragement for the ordinary. Maybe you’re in a place in which you don’t feel like the Lord is “doing” anything significant in and through you right now. Maybe your obedience to God’s calling on your life has turned into a persistent feeling of monotony and an ache for change. Maybe you’ve watched plans A, B, and C go out the window, and you’re pretty much giving up on the answer to your prayer. If any of those feel true, maybe you are the reason the Lord is having me share this word.
As we follow Naaman’s story in 2 Kings chapter 5, we see the Lord use possibly the most unexpected of sources and processes to answer his prayer. The idea to take his problem to a prophet of Israel (the equivalent of us now taking it directly to the Lord to get His answer) actually came from a young girl who was both a servant and a captive from previous battles and who now served Naaman’s wife. I can’t think of a more voiceless and powerless position, yet the Lord used her to speak so powerfully that it not only was the catalytic force for a miracle but it also was recorded so that we, thousands of years later, know what she said. This reminds us of two things. First, we must not “box in” how the Lord speaks and guides us. There are answers the Lord is speaking now that are exactly what we’ve been searching for, but we must remember to look for the “still small voice”. Second, we can’t discount the areas in which we feel God has given us “no voice” or “no power”. It is so easy for us to give up our prayers and declarations (be it over the nation, over schools, over even our own families) when we feel that they have no effect. This little girl may be your sign that your little intercessory voice, when used for the purposes of God, is anything but “little”.
As Naaman moves to pursue his healing, he has a certain vision of how it’s going to go. Don’t we all? He brings money and treasures to give in exchange, he heads directly to see the king, and he expects a miraculous “wave of the hand” and an instant healing. Instead, what he gets is a king who almost thinks he is picking a fight, a referral to a prophet who won’t even see him at first (he sends his messenger), and a prescription that is both ordinary and repetitive (wash in the Jordan seven times). If there are two things we don’t naturally like as humans it’s things that are boring and things that take a while or require a process. To us, who probably don’t regularly wash in the Jordan, this sounds very much like God, but to Naaman, who loudly voices his anger at it being something he could have effectively done at home, he is almost insulted by its simplicity and prolonged duration.
If you are feeling that Holy Spirit nudge right now, please receive this comfort. God knows how far you’ve come. He knows how frustrated you are at what hasn’t gone to “plan”. He knows your anger and, at times, lack of faith, yet He – with utmost compassion and love- is continuing unphased on His better plan which He has had in motion from the beginning. Naaman’s obedience and trust (albeit while frustrated) ultimately saw the complete answer to His prayer, and then some. It says his skin was “as a young boy” (v 14). It doesn’t tell us how old exactly he is, but this seems like the extra mile. God doesn’t just do good…He does it better than we could imagine.
As I pondered this story while running errands, I spotted a car that was the same make and model a good friend used to have. Instinctively, I always check to see if it’s my friend driving, and each time I remember a few minutes later that I’m looking for the wrong vehicle. When my friend got a new car, I still was in the habit of expecting her to come in the old one. Sometimes, our hearing the Lord can be like this. We expect it to come in the “vehicle” it has previously when the Lord is doing a new thing! Same God, new season. As with my friend’s car, I believe the Lord’s new “vehicles” of blessing for us are also upgrades!
Expect the unexpected! Scripture is clear. “Be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). Sometimes we have specific ideas of God’s timeline, and it may not “look” like our answer to prayer or “feel” like a convenient time. When Jesus approached the fig tree looking for fruit in Matthew 11:12-14, it wasn’t the normal season to bear fruit. Yet Jesus was angry at its barrenness. Similarly, sometimes we sideline ourselves or shut down what the Lord is wanting us to step into because it doesn’t look like what we expect in either timing or delivery. Be trusting and obedient anyway.
I was turning a pen in my hand the other day, and the Lord drew my attention to the “Flexigrip” name on the side. It was like He whispered to my heart, “I want you to hold everything this season with a flexi-grip”. We need to hold the Words He has taught us and spoken over our lives rather than being those who look in a mirror and instantly forget our reflection. Yet, we need to hold with a flexible grip, and allow God to move and shape and take things in the directions that He envisions, which takes the trust of knowing that His ways are always, always better than ours.