Devotional Week 39 Tuesday
“Thus saith the Lord, ‘Let not the wise man (woman) glory in his (her) wisdom, neither let the mighty man (woman) glory in his (her) might, let not the rich man (woman) glory in his (her) riches: but let him (her) that glorieth glory in this, that he (she) understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight,’ saith the Lord.”
Jeremiah 9: 23, 24
“The firm belief of, and resting on, His power and wisdom, and love, gives a clear, satisfying answer to all doubts and fears.”
“What dost thou fear?
His wisdom reigns
His power is infinite;
His love thy deepest,
Fondest dreams above;
So trust and rest.”
Adelaide A. Procter
Today’s Study Text:
“And Naaman went to his master (the King of Aram) and told him what the girl from Israel had said ‘By all means, go,’ the King of Aram replied. ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: ‘With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
II Kings 5: 5, 6
“The World of General Naaman” –
Command and Control
“Where we can examine, recognize, analyze, and define, we can control. And when it comes to human suffering, control is exactly what we want.”
How do the words “command and control” fit into my world?
What circumstances have transpired in my world that have shown me that I did not have “command” of all that happened to me nor could I “control” all the situations that took place in my life?
“Sooner or later, we always have to decide whether we worship our own power or the power of God.”
A. J. Toynbee
“The kingdom of God is simply God’s power enthroned in our hearts.”
From the very first verse in II Kings 5, we are able to get a rather distinct look at the world according to General Naaman.
From the Biblical description, I think the following words would give us quite a sufficient characterization of the world in which General Naaman operated. Words which portray how General Naaman was viewed. He was: successful, admired, respected, capable, accomplished, powerful, adept, and appreciated. To sum it up, General Naaman was in command – or as defined by the dictionary, he could give orders and people obeyed. He was in control for he had the authority to say “jump” and people would not only jump, they would most likely ask, “How high, Sir?”
It is critical, in understanding the story of Naaman, for us to comprehend, even in some small way, that this was a man used to having things go as he desired. This was an individual who was used to telling others what to do and getting them to do it – immediately!
Then one day, something happened in Naaman’s world which was out of the ordinary. Events like this didn’t “normally” happen to General Naaman. He’d never been ill, at least not with something that ostracized him and left him looking high and low for a cure – any cure.
You may not have been a “General” like Naaman, but you, too, may have found yourself in similar circumstances.
Several years ago, I had a friend who was diagnosed with inoperable cancer – at least that’s what the doctors report said. I’m not going to say exactly how I would have reacted had I been in her place, but to say there wasn’t any option that wasn’t tried would be the understatement. Every known treatment was researched – even eating apricot pits. The mental dynamic of this individual throughout this lengthy battle against a killer disease was, “I am in control. I can take charge of this battle.”
While she ended up passing away several years later, her valiant struggle helped me understand a little better how being in charge or at least thinking we have some say over the external forces that attack us unsuspectingly, can aid us in certain respects. And this is how I feel General Naaman, a man who had lived his life controlling and commanding had to have felt when faced with a devastating disease that threatened his world as he knew it.
It is the comparison between General Naaman’s world of “command and control” and our heavenly Father’s providential world of “patience and peace” which collides with a force that shakes up our complacency and earthbound thinking that too frequently lulls us into a false sense of security which says: “I can handle everything just fine on my own.”
Don’t think for a moment that in General Naaman’s world he routinely believed that he needed assistance from the lowest of the low. An individual like a servant girl from the land of Israel. Not on your life would General Naaman have been caught soliciting advice from one so lowly on societies’ ladder to success. This young woman not only wasn’t even on the first rung of the ladder, in Naaman’s opinion, she had no chance even getting anywhere near the ladder.
But when you are desperate, when you feel as though you have used up your last option and are completely out of alternatives you’ll try anything. Go back to the widowed mother for a moment, whose two sons were ready to be carried off by creditors. Naaman was as desperate as she had been for his clay jar was empty, too. Now he was ready to try anything. He was even willing to climb off his throne of “command and control” and step into a new world. A world he didn’t know much about. A world where “patience and peace” were the ruling principles. These qualities were the order of the day.
I share this concept with you today for it happens to mesh seamlessly with the emphasis we are placing on prayer this week – prayers which are focused on those among us who are without work and struggling in a world, unlike one they have ever faced before. Among the many requests I received regarding prayer for an individual seeking work was a note from Greg. While I personally pray over every request, there are some notes that drill their way into my mind and Greg’s email left an indelible mark on my memory. Most likely it was because there was an intensity to his note that really struck me. He has been searching for work for four years. That’s a long time. I didn’t ask Greg if sharing this prayer request was almost like an act of last resort. I believe he has been praying all along that God would help him find the right work. But I also know that there are many prayer sites where people turn in a request and never know if someone is really praying. I promised God that even though it takes a lot of time each week to share all the requests, that here in the Garden, we would make certain that every person would know that if they sent a need, it would be prayed over. And in Greg’s case, I just felt impressed to write to him personally and let him know that God was on his side…that God is at work…and yes, that in God’s time and in God’s way, his prayer will be answered. I don’t know when or how – I just know that my Father keeps His Word.
And this is what General Naaman found out. As a man who lived in the world of “command and control” – General Naaman got a phenomenal lesson on God’s providential world of “patience and peace” from none other than a little Israelite slave girl. Someone some of his own “commando’s” had brutally captured and whose little life he now controlled.
The collision of Naaman’s world and God’s world was driven home to me over the weekend as I reread one of my favorite texts, found in Jeremiah 29: 11. I’ve used this passage repeatedly here in Transformation Garden. Furthermore, I’ve seen this text used over and over again as an assurance that God has, in His providence, designed a plan for each one of us, that meets our personal and unique needs, and I truly believe this is one of the messages which God conveys to us from these written words. But as I read this text again, I almost thought that what God was saying was, “I’m providentially planning on giving you my peace.” But then I did something which I’ve encouraged all my Garden friends to do as we study God’s Word together and it is this advice: “Read the text in context. Read the words of Scripture that surround the passage you find so beneficial.” And here’s what jumped right out at me when I read Jeremiah 29: 11 in context.
There is a framework around Jeremiah 29: 11 which in my past reading I’d overlooked. In this familiar text of encouragement that we so frequently quote, God tells us that: “I know the thoughts and plans I have for you. They are all laid out perfectly to give you all you need for an expectantly, wonderful life, filled with all the peaceful things you need.” This is God’s providence at work. This is how God’s world works.
But here’s the framework around this promise from God. Something I’ve completely missed as I’ve read this passage in the past. In Jeremiah 29: 10, God told His children this vital piece of information: “For thus saith the Lord, ‘That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”
As I read this text, I asked myself, “What is this about?” First of all, if you notice, God says that He had something to accomplish “in Babylon.” Other versions of the Bible say “for Babylon.” Evidently, in God’s providential world of “patience and peace,” we are not the only ones to be considered. God is not only promising that good will come to you, but His plans are a lot broader and deeper than Dorothy’s world or better yet, than what I can see from my limited perspective. He’s thinking not only about taking care of Dorothy, He also has His multi-focus, multi-tasking abilities concentrated on Greg’s four-year search for the right job along with all the other people in this world who need work. But His view, I must never forget, also includes the Naaman’s in Syria who are just waiting, eagerly to find the healing power of the God of heaven. The General Naaman’s who are ready to trade in their world of “command and control” for the world you and I are promised – a world where “patience and peace” are the ruling characteristics.
“Power in complete subordination to love – that is something like a definition of the kingdom of God.”
God Knows Best
“Whichever way the wind doth blow,
Some heart is glad to have it so;
Then blow it east or blow it west,
The wind that blows, that wind is best.
My little craft sails not alone,
A thousand fleets from every zone
Are out upon a thousand seas;
What blows for one a favorite breeze
Might dash another, with the shock
Of doom, upon some hidden rock,
And so I do not dare to pray
For winds to waft me on my way,
But leave it to a Higher will
To stay or speed me, trusting still
That all is well, and sure that He
Who launched my bark will sail with me
Through storm and calm, and will not fail,
Whatever breezes may prevail,
To land me, every peril past,
Within His sheltering heaven at last.
Then, whatsoever wind doth blow,
My heart is glad to have it so;
And blow it east or blow it west,
The wind that blows, that wind is best.”
Caroline Atherton Mason
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author