Doing the dirty.
Naaman did not do “Dirty”. As commander of the Syrian army, he was respected, a brave soldier, and of importance to the king. No doubt he was used to treatment that was royal and the best. That became a problem when he got leprosy. Neither his money, his status, nor his position could buy him a cure or even treatment. For when one had leprosy, he was unclean. There was nothing he could do to obtain relief from his leprosy.
There was nothing he could do, until he heard about a man in a different country. This prophet, Elisha, his slave girl told Naaman’s wife, could make him well.
So Naaman went to the king, who sent him on his way to Samaria. The king also sent ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Naaman brought a 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.”
The king couldn’t help him, and word came to Elisha that Naaman needed help. Elisha sent word to the king to send Naaman to him.
Naaman is told what to do
Naaman had nothing to lose, so he went. Imagine his consternation when the prophet sent someone else to the door to tell him what to do. Imagine also his frustration at what he was told to do: go wash in the Jordan River. Do this, not once, but seven times.
The Jordan River runs along the border between Jordan, the Palestinian West Bank, Israel and southwestern Syria. As rivers go, the Jordan flowed along plush land, and had a history with the Israelites. It flows from north of the Galilee Sea on to the Dead Sea. If I wanted to bathe, I wouldn’t choose the Jordan, and neither did Naaman.
The “requirement” from Elisha made him furious. He was a commander in the Army – why would he want to stoop to bathing in the Jordan?! Why, if a river was the answer, did he have to travel so far to this river when there were plenty of rivers back home?! Naaman turned his horses around and headed home.
The voice of his servants brought reason to Naaman. “If the prophet asked you to do something big or noble, you would have done it. Why not try this?”
This was something Naaman couldn’t have anyone do for him. He had servants who obeyed his commands, but they could not do it for him. He couldn’t hire someone to take his place. Naaman had to do this himself.
So Naaman went into the river. He dipped down under – not once, but seven times. And, just like that, his skin became as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
We might have our ideas for why Naaman had to dip in the Jordan, and why he had to do it seven times. Perhaps it wasn’t so much the river, as it was his obedience. Maybe it wasn’t about how many times as it was about obedience. Possibly it had something to do with his pride or his arrogance. Perchance God knew he had to come to the end of himself and learn that his position, power, and wealth could not bring him healing.
When we’re asked to do the dirty
Sometimes God asks us to get down in the river and get dirty so we can become clean. When He strips us of our veneer, He can use us better than before. Once the mask and pride is gone, we will be authentic and real. When we think it’s too dirty a task, it’s probably just the right amount of muck to wash us clean.
This I know: if we want to be clean, we have to get rid of the dirty. We have to be clean of the dirty, no matter how many dips into the river it takes.
Photo attribution to Moody publishers through freebibleimages.org