Surrender and Obedience
I came across the story of Naaman during my Bible reading the other day. His story can be found in 2 Kings 5. If you aren’t familiar with the story, here’s the short version: Naaman was a commander of the Syrian army. The Bible tells us he was an honorable man, a mighty man of valor, and he had leprosy. There was no cure for leprosy then. On the word of a servant girl, Naaman sets out to Israel to seek healing. Elisha, the prophet, gives him the directions of what he must do to be healed: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” (2 Kings 5:10).
Rather than being elated at a seemingly easy task to heal this incurable disease, Naaman is furious. Why? In verse 11 we see that Naaman had thought Elisha would come out to him, call on the name of the Lord God, wave his hand over the place and the leprosy would be healed. That’s not what happened. Instead, the healing requires something of Naaman, and not something he was particularly happy about doing. Next, we see pride kick in. “Are not the Abana and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?! Could I not wash in them and be clean?” (2 Kings 6:12)
It is easy for me to read the story of Naaman and judge him and think “You have leprosy, just jump in the water, do what he says!” But as I look back at times in my life, I am far too often just like Naaman.
The last few months for me and my family have been a little crazy. We have had a lot going on. There have been some great things, but there have also been some struggles and some really hard things. As I have been reflecting, I realize that often, when I reach out to God for things – answers, healing, comfort, direction – I, like Naaman, have a picture in my mind of what God is going to do to answer me, or at least, what I think should happen.
Most times, though, just as with Naaman, God works in ways that are so different than my picture. Often times, in response to my requests, God asks me to do things that to me seem counter intuitive. He tells me to be quiet when I think I really need to speak out. He tells me to give even though I have need. When I ask for direction, He leads me to places that aren’t even on the map that I have, a map that I created.
More often than not, just as with Naaman, His responses ask something of me and require the same things: complete surrender (surrender of me, of my ideas, my pictures of what I think is best) and absolute obedience.
Isn’t that the picture of our Christian walk? And it is played out over and over again as He refines and sanctifies us. From the start, we surrender. We die to ourselves, putting to death the sin, the fleshly nature within us, we die to the picture of life and how it should be lived.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Romans 6:6-7 We know that our old life died with Christ on the cross. This was so that our sinful selves would have no power over us, and we would not be slaves to sin. Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.
We give up our ideas of how things should be and surrender to His will, His way, just as Jesus did.
Mark 14:36 He prayed “Abba Father! You can do all things. Let me not have this cup of suffering. But do what you want, not what I want.”
We walk in obedience to what He says.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to Him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
James 1:22 says “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”
Luke 11:28 But He (Jesus) said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
My challenge to you to you is this: as you come to our heavenly Father with your needs and requests, choose to walk in surrender of your picture of how things will and should happen and choose to walk in obedience to whatever He asks of you to do.