13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I used to seclude myself away, once a month, for an evening of fasting, study, and prayer. It was a great practice in the time before marriage and kids. One of these nights I was struggling with the passage above, verse 14. I was not in a Christian tradition that called on its’ elders to pray over them and anoint people with oil. I struggled with the directive of the Scripture and the practice of my church. Mind you, I wasn’t bashing my church because for the life of me I could not resolve in my head the practicality of such a practice. Personally, I would have thought it odd to do such a thing and probably felt a little awkward with such a charismatic Christian activity.
But still I struggled with it. For hours I prayed about it and sought resolution in my mind but I could not. Then I asked Jesus to please give me direction in this. I sat there and did not budge for a while and God prompted me to open my bible. I did and I opened to 2 Kings 5; I swear I’m not making this up.
In 2 Kings 5 there is a story of a man named Naaman who was the commander of the army of a foreign king. Naaman had the skin disease of leprosy and leprosy was destroying him. One day, Naaman’s wife’s servant girl told him of a prophet in Israel who could heal him of his ailment. And so He obtained permission from his King to go to Israel to seek out this prophet. And when he got close, this is what the scriptures report.
2 Kings 5:10-14
10 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.”
11 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. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 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’!” 14 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.
When I read this, I instantly realized that my issue was that of faith, of not wanting to appear silly to others, and not trusting the directions of God. I realized that even if I cannot resolve the practicality of something in my mind that I needed to still heed and obey the call of God in my life.
What about you, are you like me and Naaman? Have you heard the Call of God in your own life, and not responded because you can’t make sense of it in your own mind? Don’t try to make it make sense; faith doesn’t often compute in our humanistic brains, sometimes we need to just step out in faith. Take a moment and watch this 2 minute video.
I believe that there is one final part to this story, and that is found in Mark 10 with a question of faith in Jesus.
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
There is a thousand ways to preach this message of Mark 10, but what I want to do today is point out the similarity that exists between the stories of this man and Naaman. Each man expected something greater and grander from God, each had an expectation, and each didn’t want to look silly. But what about you, God is calling to you and now you have to decide if you are going to respond like Naaman or like the Rich Young Ruler.
I know stepping out is difficult, but I promise you, it is worth it and it makes more sense later when the Holy Spirit of God reveals what only the Holy Spirit of God can reveal.
I'm praying for you.