Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. (2 Kings 5:1)
I spend 20 minutes suiting the 4 of them up to play outside in the snow. Maybe it was only 10 minutes, but in my frustration, it felt more like an hour. Zipping coats, replacing hats, adjusting gloves and on and on until they file out into the white world, under an icy sun.
I’m capable of a great many things, but I am deeply impatient. My symptoms hide inside, and split the surface in bouts of yelling and heavy sighing. It’s leperous, this red frustration that simmers beneath the surface.
Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:2-3)
One friend receives news of a long awaited adoption finally happening, and another is chosen by a birth mother. Another discovers she’s pregnant–miracles unfolding right here, in the middle of this waiting season.
And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:5)
I shuffle from the stove to the sink, glancing up every few minutes to see the kids out in the yard. I’m grateful for the quiet.
We’ve all been so noisy.
My frustration has reached it’s tipping point and I feel the ache for a miracle of my own.Who will cure me, I wonder over the bread board.
And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (2 Kings 5:7-8)
I look to myself in desperation–not to the King, not to the cross. I prophesy my own healing and when I find I am incapable, I steam and wail at my inabilities. I am Naaman and king. I am sinner, broken, and bent. I am false prophet and idol unto myself.
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. (2 kings 5:9-12)
Tears slip at the sink, disappearing into the suds. My pride buckles and bursts right there in the momentary quiet of a kitchen I often complain is two sizes too small. Where is my Christmas miracle? Don’t I too have prayers and longings aching to be heard?
I thought God would just wipe away this mess–surely He could do that. Instead, He tells me to wash in the rivers of repentance. He lays me low in shallow streams of humility.
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’?” (2 Kings 5:13)
He’s given me what I need. I hear the truth whispering from the hollow inside. Repent, He says. I cringe, my head hangs. It is a great word he has spoken to me. A great and difficult word for one who too often lunges for a crown to wear. Will you not do it?
I wring the dish towel in my hands. I wait for lunch to make my apology. I turn around in that tiny kitchen and wash.
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. (2 Kings 5:14)
Another friend receives a word of good news and the internet brims with stories of Christmas miracles.
My feet ache from standing all morning, I am tired and fighting to find enough room to rest this season.
I’m not meant to wear a crown. I’m made to worship, not to be worshiped.
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; (2 Kings 5:15)
Naaman needed a miracle. He went willing, but hemmed in by his own expectations. Advent sometimes unfolds like this–burdened with expectations.
Israel wanted a savior, they got a baby born in dirt by way of an unwed mother.
I light that hope candle on the advent wreath. I watch it burn right through the afternoon.
The miracle is come. Yeshua.
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