During July we’re focusing on God’s creative solutions. Each of the posts published this month will be about the author’s experiences with unexpected solutions and how God provides beyond our limited sight. Please see the Prayer page to read our strategic prayer request for this month and to see how we, as a branch, are hopeful to see God’s creativity at work.
By Lori Witham
There is a story back in the Old Testament times about Naaman, the Syrian army general, who served a false god and was a leper. Being an army general, he was very powerful. But he was powerless against his leprosy. God used his wife’s little Israelite slave girl to suggest he go to the prophet Elisha so the Israelite’s God could cure him. With Naaman’s seed of faith, he began the arduous process of visiting Elisha. He had to ask his king in order to travel to Israel, who had to send a letter to Israel’s king Jehoram, who eventually sent him to Elisha.
What does this story in 2 King 5 have to do with “God’s creative solutions”? Naaman had a goal like we do (to empower and encourage our national co-workers so that they can teach and empower others), which originated from God’s plan, not man’s. For Naaman, God wanted as many people as possible, both Syrian and Israelite, to witness how the God of Israel is able to heal something that a mighty man is powerless against. For us, it is God’s plan that our national co-workers be able to teach and encourage other Papua New Guineans to bring God’s Word to others in their own languages through translation, literacy, and Scripture use.
Since we are servants of God, we have to remember to ask God for His plan and guidance, not ask Him to bless our plan. Then when we have asked for His guidance, do we follow through with His answer? Are we actually listening for an answer from God? Do we expect an answer? Or are we praying then quickly jumping into the job using our own old pat practices? God’s ways are definitely not always our ways! He is the expert at thinking outside the box! This is why our prayer is worded, “That God will show us how to empower and encourage….” If we depended on our own solutions, they may be amazingly insufficient!
Naaman learned this as well. When the young slave girl suggested asking Elisha to heal him, Naaman assumed that when he went Elisha would walk out his door, wave his arms, and with a mighty voice call out to God. God would then heal Naaman and he’d return home. But God had other plans. Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house and was told (via a messenger) to simply wash seven times in the Jordan River. He had a preconceived idea of his healing, so his initial reaction was to get angry and walk away. But his servants made him realize that since he had asked God to heal him, he should be ready to obey God’s plan.
And that is what I get the most out of this story. When you ask God for His guidance, you have to be ready to not only listen for His answer, but then to follow it. By following God’s plan, Naaman was able to be healed of a skin disease, but he was, more importantly, used as a witness of the mighty Israelite God to 1) the king of Syria and the palace officials (and therefore, probably, much of the Syrian population); 2) the Syrian army; 3) the servants, soldiers, and chariot drivers who went with him; 4) King Jehoram and his palace officials; 5) Elisha’s servant Gehazi; and 6) Naaman himself, who immediately became a true believer in Almighty God as the one true God, no longer following the false god of Syria.
Considering this, I get really excited! I can only imagine how God will answer our prayer!
Lori serves as PBT-PNG’s desktop publishing specialist, assisting translators lay out translated scripture text into a book to send it to the printers.