Quiet ChangeApril 24, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’” — 2 Kings 9:13
The story of Naaman, the chief general of the armies of Aram, stands as one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. Naaman, a powerful warrior, was stricken with leprosy. In one of the battles with Israel, the armies of Naaman captured a young girl of Israel, whom he gives to his wife as a servant. While we know very little about her, this young Israelite girl, recognizing her new master’s condition, tells Naaman’s wife about a powerful prophet, Elisha of Samaria, who has the ability to heal her husband.
With this information and the permission of the king, Naaman travels to his enemy’s country to see the great prophet. Without even seeing the great general, Elisha sends a messenger to tell Naaman to simply go and dip in the Jordan River seven times. Then he will be cured.
You might suppose that Naaman would welcome such a simple cure for his disease. But Naaman is incensed. How dare this prophet insult him by not even coming to see him and performing an elaborate ritual to cure him! Naaman, after all, is a hero. In his mind, he deserved a heroic cure, not just a dip in the Jordan River.
Then, as we see in our verse, his servants tell him words of wisdom. They tell him, “Why do you need something flashy to cure you; just listen to the prophet and go take a bath!” Fortunately for Naaman, he heeds the advice of his servants, dips his body seven times in the Jordan River, and he is immediately healed.
I think there is much wisdom in the words of the servants, words that broke through the haughtiness of Naaman, words that speak through the generations. How often do we expect change to occur because of something big, flashy, larger-than-life? We live in a world of spectacles, of Super Bowl shows that play to our need for fireworks and performances.
We expect change to occur after a life-altering experience, but we don’t realize that change can occur in something as mundane as taking a bath. We must learn that the flashiness of large spectacles is just that, flashy, but not necessarily of substance. It is in those small moments which call for a small step of faith, when we drop our arrogant poses, that we can truly begin to change.