Thursday, March 13, 2014

It can't be that easy!

Naaman was strong. As a leader of the Aram army, he commanded much respect—and he received it. There was just one problem:

"He was a valiant soldier," the Bible says in 2 Kings 5:1, "but he had leprosy."

Leprosy. The kind of disease that forced men to beg outside city gates. A disease that gave birth to lesions, sores, muscle weakness, and nerve damage. A shameful disease.

When you read the story in the Bible, you can almost feel the weight of that shame resting on Naaman. The leprosy is a weakness he cannot shake, something he's carried for so long that it's become a part of his identity. "Naaman, the incredible leader...with leprosy."  The commander was resigned to the fact that he would have to shoulder the burden of sickness and shame for the rest of his life. Of course, he longed to separate himself from the disease—but there was no cure. Or was there?

"If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria!" the servant girl said to Naaman's wife. "He would cure him of his leprosy."

A cure? A chance for release? Surely, these things were impossible. But however far-fetched the girl's words may have sounded, Naaman could not pass up the possibility of being healed. The king of Aram readily gave permission to his highly-regarded commander to seek out this cure, and sent him to Israel with 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing to present as an offering to the unknown miracle worker.

"So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, 'Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.' " (2 Kings 5:9-10)

This is incredible news, is it not? Naaman's been living with a horrendous, flesh-eating disease for years and years, and all that stands between him and complete healing is a bath in the Jordan river!

Naaman should have been beside himself with excitement. He should have sprinted for that river without looking back. Except...he wasn't, and he didn't.

"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"...So he turned and went off in a rage."  (2 Kings 5:11-12)

I thought this "prophet" was going to come see me for himself, not just send out a measly messenger! I thought he was going to perform signs and wonders! I thought something amazing was going to happen; that I was going to receive some kind of cure I couldn't have found anywhere else. Heck, I can take a bath at home!

Can't you just hear that running through Naaman's mind? His hopes are completely and utterly dashed, but not because the instructions he received were too difficult. Just the opposite—they were too easy.

How many times have I done the same thing? I've come to God begging Him for answers, begging Him for a Word or a sign, begging Him for freedom from the prison of fear, worry, and anxiety. I come to Him expecting claps of thunder and instantaneous miracles. I say to Him, "I'll do anything!" And yet, when He simply responds, "Trust me," I feel that I've been cheated somehow. Why? Because my problem is too huge for the solution to be that easy!

Don't we do this when it comes to our salvation, too? We brace ourselves for an insurmountable task; a lifetime of earning our heavenly keep. Surely God's grace alone is not enough. Surely there must be something we can add to our free gift, something we can do to prove our worth. Didn't we bring 750 pounds of silver? Didn't we come prepared with 150 pounds of gold? Didn't we carry in our hands 10 sets of elaborately spun clothing?

And yet, God says, "My Son has paid it all. He has beaten you to the cross. He has already said, 'It is finished.' You don't have to earn My love. You don't have to buy your salvation. Your debt has been paid, and paid in full."

It can't be that easy! And is.

"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 5:13)

"Wash and be cleansed. Believe that what I say is Truth. Accept My free gift of salvation."

It's as simple as that—no need for complications. Our only role is to trust and obey.

"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." (2 Kings 5:14)

. . .

The Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

No tricks. No gimmicks. No silver, no gold. No perfect record, no good works or deeds. Just a bath in the Jordan—just accepting the free gift that's been offered.

It really is that easy. Why not take hold of it today?

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