Sunday, May 21, 2006

the muddy water that cleanses

I was reading an interesting passage of scripture today... 2 Kings 5. It taught me a lot about myself.

Naaman, commander of the army of Aram, had leprosy. He had gotten his king to send him to Israel (Aram's enemy) in order to be healed by the prophet Elisha. Upon his arrival in Israel, Naaman received the order from Elisha's messenger that he would need to go and dip in the Jordan river in order to receive the healing. Naaman got a little upset. That's where he started to remind me of myself...

v. 11-12 read "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 any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage."

I practically tripped over myself in that passage. The first thing that I recognized was Naaman's frustration that his move from God wasn't coming in the manner HE expected it to. "What?! All I get is a stinkin' messenger?! Isn't the prophet going to speak to me? Aren't I going to feel something? Isn't this going to be a big deal?"

Second, Naaman was bothered by being told to wash seven times in the Jordan. The Jordan, from what I understand, isn't exactly a pristine river. It's murky. It can be downright muddy. "Are you kidding? You want me to dip myself SEVEN times in this nasty water? How can something this disgusting possibly cleanse me?" I get the feeling that this wasn't the grandiose healing experience that Naaman was hoping for.

And so, here I sit--guilty as charged. I too have thrown fits like Naaman. I have ventured off on desperate journeys in search of an act of God, only to find that He doesn't move in exactly the way I had expected Him to. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times that I have expected God to turn a situation out a certain way, and not only does he NOT do it my way, but he also sends me to be cleansed in ways that aren't so pleasant at the time. And not only are they unpleasant, but sometimes it seems like what God asks me to do will take me in the opposite direction of where I'm trying to go!

There have been so many times that I have sought cleansing, and God has pointed me to muddy waters. How often do we expect our renewal to come as a nicely packaged, sweetly fragranced remedy for life, when in fact, what we need is a humble dipping in the mud of our own understanding. Ah, but yes... just as with Naaman in v. 14, obedience releases the grace of God for me to understand...

Somehow, every single time, it works. Every time, the muddy water that I try to avoid is exactly what carries me into the next sphere that God has for me. It washes away doubt, fear, pride, pain, and self-reliance, and it flushes me clean of my own expectations.


kristi carlette said...

betsy jo, i was experiencing this very thing last night after an amazing prayer meeting with our elders. what an encouragement it was for me today to be reminded of God's way not being my way. so today, be blessed and encouraged and know that you are loved.

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