“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.”
2 Kings 5:10-11
Desires can be tricky. God has designed us with a capacity for desire. Sometimes we get them fulfilled, sometimes we don’t. But the times in which we we do, God often fulfills them in ways we would’ve never expected.
Naaman had a desire to be cured of leprosy. But he sure didn’t like the way in which God wanted to bring it about.
During this time Syria had the upper hand on Israel. And a big reason was because of Naaman.
He was the captain of the armies of Syria. He was a successful and accomplished warrior. Everywhere where he went he was greeted with respect and honor. The Bible even says he was favored by God. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was also a leper! And he had a desire to be free of it.
So he comes to his vassal nation because there were reports of a prophet who could heal him of his disease. And he brings the prophet a gift of 10 talents of silver and 75 pounds of gold. And he arrives at the prophet’s humble abode with horses and chariots, with pomp and circumstance. I’m sure Naaman thought this was gonna be easy.
Naaman expected to see the prophet that day, but the prophet didn’t even show his face! He sent a messenger instead. Oh, how this must have wounded the captain’s pride. Doesn’t he know who I am!?! And, perhaps, the biggest blow was what he told him to do next…
Go and wash in Jordan seven times.
The Jordan river!? What? Yes, yes, I want the blessing, but I don’t like the way! He had his preconceived notions and now God was destroying his box. I thought I was going to present him with the gift! And he would wave his magic wand over me and I would be made whole.
I think often times we assume our desires will come quick and easy. Go wash in the Jordan?? 60 miles away?? You know I’ve already traveled 100 miles to get here! Naaman thought he deserved better treatment than this. The Jordan was a cold and dirty river. And it’s funny that the Jordan means to descend. In fact, the Jordan empties into the Dead Sea, the LOWEST point on earth. All of Naaman’s life he was consumed with upward mobility, climbing the latter of success. But now, before him, laid the path of downward mobility.
Dip seven times and you will be healed.
Not once, not twice, but seven times in the Jordan – ‘the cold and muddy descender’ – until your descent is complete. Sometimes you have to go to the bottom to get what God has for you. And then when you get there you realize you really needed something else in the first place. Naaman did receive his heart’s desire that day, but regardless of being cured of his leprosy, he was healed of his pride.
This kind of thing occurs at the Jordan. The Jordan… where the waters may be cool with indifference… where the waters may be clear as mud. Naaman was sent to the Jordan… and so will you and I. We want the way to be quick, but God has no regard for time. We want the way to be easy, but God does not regard our comfort. We envision the way through our preconceived notions, but God does not regard our boxes. But, He does regard our desires, and even more than that, he ultimately regards our character.
What should we do when brought to the water’s edge? Well, we can dip our toe in once, hang our arm in twice, or (with God’s grace) jump in the Jordan and let Him complete His work in our life.