Sometimes people miss God’s best for them because it is being offered in a package that does not fit with their preconceptions. Most of us would affirm that we desire God’s richest and best for our lives. We trust Him, we know that He is good, we believe that the plans that He has for us will result in something for which we will be grateful. Because of this, we pray for wisdom, direction, provision, power and help from Him. When doing so we sometimes forget that God will answer our prayers in ways that are different than what we assumed. If we are not careful, we can actually fail to recognize Him and His answers when they arrive, all because they were not aligned with what we assumed God would give or how He would give it. I introduce to you an Old Testament character named Naaman who came perilously close to missing a miracle, all because it did not seem to be coming to him in the way that he assumed:
“And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 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?” So he turned and went away in a rage.” – 2 Kings 5:10-12
Naaman was a man with power, money, position, influence and no shortage of resources. He had one problem: he was dying of incurable leprosy. One of his servants told him of Elisha, the prophet of Israel, and how he could intervene and bring potential healing to Naaman. Recognizing that he was running out of options, Naaman went to visit Elisha who did not even come out to meet the great Naaman face to face. He simply sent a messenger to tell the prestigious man to go dunk himself into the waters of Jordan seven times and then he would be miraculously healed. You can read above that Naaman was offended and did not see the point in submitting to the process given by Elisha. He assumed that two other rivers in his hometown, Abana and Pharpar would have just as easily been accessed for the healing. He asked the rhetorical question, “Can’t I just go home and wash in those rivers and become cleansed? Aren’t they as good – even better – than the Jordan?”
The answer was “No, Naaman, you cannot be cleansed in those rivers. You will die if you trust in those waters because God has appointed the waters of the Jordan for you. He is revealing His plan. The choice is yours as to whether or not you will merge with what God is doing.”
I wonder how often we inwardly insist that God bless our own Abana’s and Pharpar’s as the means to get Him to do what we want Him to do. We not only want to receive the answer to our prayers but we can often subtly wish to dictate the process by which those answers arrive to us. We reason our way through challenges and needs and place our finger on what it is that we want, and then we proceed to instruct God on how He needs to go about making it happen for us. When it becomes apparent that He is determining to do something different, a crisis of faith arises for us – God has facilitated a dilemma for us. Will we insist that God do things our way or will we humble ourselves and submit to His ways, even when they may not make sense to us? God is too wise to submit Himself to our understanding. We always have less information than He does. We always have less clarity about things than God. He actually knows the end from the beginning and has infinite wisdom engaged in His plans for us. He points us toward a muddy Jordan while we protest and tell Him that we prefer a more reasonable Abana or Pharpar- they make more sense to us. He keeps sending us back to Jordan until our seventh immersion in those waters takes place. Until we follow completely through on His instructions, we remain where we were, lacking what we need…wondering when He is going to endorse our plan. Fortunately for Naaman, his companions reasoned Him into obeying God, and he reluctantly dipped himself in the Jordan, coming away perfectly cured after the seventh time. He learned that God may not seem reasonable to us but He is always wise and good.
Be encouraged that God always knows what He is doing when He brings something unexpected or unprecedented to you. He doesn’t need His plans for you to be legitimized via some precedent. He may be working uniquely for you in ways that did not fit your assumption of what He would do or how He would do it. It is humbling to recognize that He does not ask us for advice. Also, God did not stop being creative after framing up the natural order of things. He reserves the right to remain creative with you and to lead you in ways that you have not known before. Be wise when He directs you to a Jordan. When He does so, step into it with no rationalizing about the presumably better option of an Abana or a Pharpar. The currents He appoints for you contain the answers He has prepared for you. Wade in a little deeper.
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