Friday, August 26, 2016

Insignificant- 2 Kings 5:1-27

There are many days when I feel insignificant and unimportant. I look at what I do everyday and I wonder if anyone would even notice if I weren't here to do it. I mean, anyone can make dinner. Anyone can remind kids to do their chores. Anyone can drop a kid off at work or at baseball practice. If I'm honest, I often feel replaceable. And it's in the midst of feeling like this that I often find stories that lift me back up.

There's a story in 2 Kings 5:1-27. You can read it here as it's a bit long to post in this blog:

There are a few cool points to this story that I never noticed before. I've read it a bunch of times but somehow I missed these things before. I've been reading this book by Shauna Niequist called Present Over Perfect. In that book she reminded me that we run everything through our own filters. The filters I often use are negativity, fear, and insignificance. The one she uses in her story is shame. And I have done that over and over again throughout my life. But in reading this particular story, I asked Jesus to show it to me through His filter. And I think it was because of that that I saw this insignificant slave girl that made a huge difference.

This story starts out telling us about Naaman who is the leader of the army of Aram and who has just raided Israel, taking more slaves. In the first verse, we are told that God has used Naaman repeatedly to bring victory to Aram over Israel. This guy is valuable to his master. If you read the Old Testament, then you know that the people of Israel end up in slavery a lot. They sin, God punishes them by allowing other countries to invade them. Many die while others end up slaves. Over and over again, it happens. And the reason that we are reading about it happening over and over again is because we are meant to see God's endless, extravagant love for His people. He never gives up on them. He pursues them over and over again.

But this time, there is an insignificant detail pointed out in verse 2: "It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife."

There a couple of things that you need to know here to move forward and I'm going to operate under the assumption that you didn't read the verses I told you to read earlier (just in case you really didn't) so that you understand why this is so important even though it doesn't look like it is.

Remember, Naaman is the commander of the army of Aram. God has used him repeatedly to bring victory to Aram and so his master values him. The problem? He has leprosy. Leprosy was a terrible skin disease and it was so bad that people who suffered from it were typically shunned. It's pretty amazing, therefore, that his master kept him on. It shows just how important Naaman's success was to him.

So, going back to that seemingly insignificant detail. "It so happened..." This is another way of saying, "Wow! What a coincidence!" But I think by now we can all agree that there are no coincidences in the Bible. God doesn't DO coincidence. He does things on purpose.

Look at this from this girl's perspective though. I don't know who she was in her previous life in Israel, but she went from free and having a future to look forward to straight into slavery. Her future is no longer hers. She will not be living the life that her family chooses. She'll be living the life that her master chooses. She could get a great master or a mean one. She could live a decent life or a bad one. And here she is. God allowed her to be taken into slavery. And why?

We get to see that here. Look at what she says as an almost offhand remark to Naaman's wife: "One day she said to her mistress, 'Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.'" (5:3)

Remember that Naaman has a terrible skin disease. There is no cure for what he has at that time. Most people just go into seclusion. They die alone, untouched. He is desperate for a cure. He is willing to do anything. And so he goes straight to the King who sends him off to meet Elisha, who this girl says can heal him.

And who is she? She is just this girl from Israel. A nothing. A no one. She is, by all accounts, insignificant. But she had complete faith in who God said he was. She believed that God could and would do exactly what he said through Elisha and so she risked a lot by speaking up. She told Naaman's wife what she knew. And it was her telling that changed the entire course of Naaman's life. This insignificant girl who doesn't even get a name in the story shows total bravery and trust in the Lord by speaking up.

I just think it's amazing that this particular story is 27 verses long. This girl- this unnamed, insignificant slave girl- got 2 verses. At first glance, her part in the story looks so small but it's actually huge! She was a slave amongst her enemies and rather than sulking or keeping God to herself, she shared him with them! The world would say that she had every right to hate this guy and his family. He is the reason she is in slavery right now. It's because of his leadership that she is in Aram rather than in Israel with her family. But she chose to be bold. She chose to share God with Naaman and his family. She chose to follow God's will in her life. And it's because of her and what she did that Naaman's entire household turned around and started to worship God! God used this one small, ill-equipped slave girl to draw a man of great worldly importance to himself.

So how do we apply this to my earlier statement? I often feel like I am doing insignificant work. I feel like God could use anyone to do this job and I'm right. He could. But the fact is, he picked ME for this job. He picked me to raise these kids, to drive everyone everywhere, to be married to this man, to clean this house, to write these blog posts, to break up these fights between my children because he saw value in me. He saw something in me that was just right for this job. I don't know what it is yet, but like that slave girl, I'm going to keep doing what I feel God leading me to do. I'm going to let him use me. And who knows? Maybe I'm playing a bigger part in my story than I even realize. But it doesn't really matter. I'm playing the part that God gave me and giving it my all. That's what matters here.

Be blessed today and don't forget to be a blessing!