Friday, November 10
An Impossible Choice Made Possible
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Army commander, Naaman, found himself struck with leprosy, a terrible disease that eats away at the flesh. In a quirky twist, God healed him by instructing him, through Elisha, to wash in the Jordan seven times. At first he was angry and perplexed because the task seemed too simple. But eventually he did it, and he was healed.
His response to his healing was interesting. He proclaimed he would no longer bow to any god except God. But he was in a tough spot. As commander of King Aram's army, one of his duties was to accompany his master "into the house of Rimmon to worship there," with the master leaning on his arm. This would require him essentially to bow down in the house of the god, Rimmon. So Naaman asked Elisha for a pardon for the offense so he might worship God and fulfill his duties as a commander. Elisha granted him pardon for this seemingly contradictory behavior.
There are lots of times we face situations where our hearts and our heads tell us to behave in contradictory ways. We might work for a boss or a company that does questionable things, and then we are faced with a decision -- to keep our job or keep our integrity. Elisha's response to Naaman might give us a third option -- to keep both our job and our integrity. For some reason we might believe the two can't live in the same space. But consider this. We know what we are made of. We know our own integrity. We know we would not carry out a morally ambiguous task under any other circumstances. Perhaps we can maintain our integrity by doing our work the best we can, and by behaving in a manner pleasing to God. Maybe the choice between job and integrity is not an either/or decision. Maybe both can exist together.
That being said, if your heart is telling you to choose, then pray, meditate, consider the options, decide what to do, and then move forward boldly. However you choose to respond to the situations life throws at you, God will be right there by your side, cheering you on all the way.
Narrative Lectionary Text: 2 Kings 5:1-19
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”
So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company; he came and stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel; please accept a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!” He urged him to accept, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord. But may the Lord pardon your servant on one count: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow down in the house of Rimmon, when I do bow down in the house of Rimmon, may the Lord pardon your servant on this one count.” He said to him, “Go in peace.”