Devotion for the Week...
As a teenager I dreamed of writing novels, the thicker the better and probably in the fantasy genre. In university my honors thesis was a young adult fantasy novella. I imagined what it would feel like to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf (face out of course!) and what it would feel like to hold that book in my hands. I could picture it quite vividly and I loved that picture :)
I read dozens of books about how to write well, how to develop stories and characters and even how to submit your writing to publishers. I probably spent almost as much time reading about writing as I did actually writing!
My novel writing never quite matched up to my dreams though, and there's still no big fat novel with my name on it. I'm okay with that, mostly because I'm still writing, it just takes the form of blog posts and devotions here.
Sometimes we have a hard time letting go of our expectations. We want something to happen and we believe it has to happen the way we've always envisioned it or it won't happen at all. Naaman, in the Bible, had some expectations too and when things didn't go as he expected he almost missed out on something big.
You can read about Naaman in 2 Kings chapter 5 where we are told he was "commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy" (v. 1). While it's nice to know that Naaman was highly regarded because of his military expoits, I find the next two verses much more interesting in terms of his character. "Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy" (vv. 2,3). Here we have a slave girl recommending that her master go to the prophet Elisha to be cured of his leprosy. That tells me Naaman and his wife must have been kind to their slaves or this young girl would have just let the man rot in his disease and would probably have cheered every discomfort her captor felt.
So, on the advice of his wife's servant girl, Naaman went to the king and received permission to visit this prophet in hopes of being cured. Naaman arrives at Elisha's door and Elisha sends a messenger to tell Naaman that all he has to do is go dunk himself in the Jordan river 7 times and he'll be healed. "But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage" (vv. 11,12).
Did you see Naaman's unmet expectations? He expected Elisha to meet him at the door and wave his hand over the spots on Naaman's skin and so cure the disease. Instead, Elisha just sent a messenger with instructions. Naaman wasn't even going to bother following the instructions! His servants had to convince him that he might as well give it a shot since it was such a simple task. "So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy" (v. 14).
But Naaman almost missed it. He wanted God to heal him, but he had expectations of how it was going to happen and when those expectations weren't met, Naaman almost walked away and missed out on what God wanted to do for him.
We all have things we want God to do for us, and we've all imagined how we think those things could happen. But what if God wants to do it a different way? He is not limited to what our imaginations can conjure up, after all. The question is, when the moment comes, will we cling to our expectations and miss what God wants to do? Or will we recognize the opportunity and run with it, straight into whatever God has planned for us?