A crossroad represents a point in our lives when we make a critical decision that affects the trajectory of our lives.
This morning, I read the story of Naaman, Elisha, and Gehazi. Naaman had a big problem that he was willing to give anything for. A little intelligence from a little Isreali girl led him to Israel in search of a solution. Some have suggested that the girl offered that information because she was well treated, if that was the case then the lesson for us is – be kind to everyone that comes along your way, they may just be the answer you are seeking or the connector. Bear in mind that God can use anyone, so be sensitive. Another school of thought could be that the girl gave that information in spite of how she was treated because she was trained to do good even to her enemies. The lesson to us is that God expect us to love even our enemies so that by our love, they will know that we are followers of Christ; so be open, God can use you to show mercy to the undeserving.
Naaman showed up in a big way – 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. It was obvious from his crew that he was a big man; Elisha was not moved by the show. All he wanted was to show Naaman that a true prophet existed in Israel. This was not about the prophet but the God of the prophet who was about to transform Naaman for life. When we find ourselves with an opportunity to impact, do we take advantage of it to put God on display? Our days are often littered with little opportunities to shine our light – helping a colleague at work, giving a neighbour a helping hand, wiping the tears of a friend, being a listening ear or a praying lip, correcting our children, and yes, even stretching our hands out so that God can use them to heal or touch someone.
How do I know it was not about the prophet? Elisha did not come out; he sent a messenger. The message was more important. It was a simple instruction. God’s instructions are usually so simple that our human minds try to dissect it because we expect fireworks all the time. I have heard God say “go and sin no more” to the sinner, and the sinner wondered, “Is that all?’ I have heard God say, ‘hold your peace, and I will fight for you, ” and I personally wondered, ‘just like that’. So when God speaks, listen and don’t allow human wisdom get in the way.
Naaman was not too different from us; he grumbled at the ridiculousness of the instruction like he had a better solution. In fact, he was boastful as he bragged about his status and questioned if the rivers in his homeland were not much better than the ones in Israel. His crew nudged him to give it a try; after all, what would he lose from doing it? They had his back. Resist the urge to fall back to your default setting; grumbling and pride are detractors. If your situation was that great, you will not be in search of a solution. Don’t look back and don’t settle. Surround yourself with the right crew that will encourage you when you receive instruction that feels too simple to be true. Their nudge is their way of saying – we are in this together even if it doesn’t work, your secret is safe with us.
Naaman had the bath of a lifetime; he went in sored and came out looking like the stuff of baby product commercials. I can relate to how he felt when he came out; my son always rubs the side of his cheek against mine in an attempt to give me a little bit of that baby glow. It is usually clear whose face has gone through the motions of life. My lesson here is a direct quote from the Bible: “If you are willing and obedient, you will reap the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19
Naaman was excited; he went in search of the prophet to say thank you. There is nothing wrong with saying, thank you; it is a demonstration of gratitude. Naaman came with all the goodies: silver, gold, and clothing. Elisha was happy to see him healed, but he said, ‘No, thanks’ to all the goodies. Can you imagine that? No, thanks to 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 sets of clothing. I suspect even Elisha had to put a knife to his own throat and resist any urge. Because it was never about the prophet. It was all about the God of the prophet.
Gehazi was not about to let those goodies slide. He ran after Naaman told a lie and got himself some goodies. Gehazi represents our greedy side,the one that will help us justify why the gift should be received and give us righteous reasons why it is acceptable and what it can be used for in God’s name. Every single one of us has the ability to become greedy; in fact, we will find spiritual avenues and lace it with ‘christianese’ to serve as our justification. Keep your motive in check and be quick to say no to any gift that makes you take God’s glory in a situation. Sometimes, you say no to avoid a pattern; other times, you say no to discourage a behaviour; in fact, you should surprise yourself by saying no to those heavy gifts as a sign that your dependency is on God. When you come home, let the battle rage on your inside and let it hurt; if you break through, you would have won one of many battles that had led men from the God path to the money path.
Gehazi got an instant gratification but vied off course and paid a heavy price. He may just have inherited a double portion of Elijah and Elisha and gone on to be the greater of the three, but he settled for silver and gold. His story is the story of many great men who daily settle for silver and gold. They settle for the goodies and miss the glory.
There is a lesson in each character. Each one came to a crossroad and had to make a choice. Elisha demonstrated the integrity and character of the messenger. By saying no, he stayed true to the calling. Naaman came to a place where humility was the passcode; he struggled, but in obedience, he earned a lasting reward. Gehazi took the wrong turn; his character reminds us of our natural tendencies that we need to keep in check so that our destinies are not derailed.
At crossroads, may we look to those who have gone before us and learn from their mistakes. May we remember those coming after us and not set them on the wrong path because of fleeting pleasure. May we look up to the author and finisher of our faith and remember that He ran the same race, and we can safely plant our feet in His and finish our race.
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