Our Plans and God’s Plans — Being Reminded by Naaman the Syrian on the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Oh how different our plans and God’s plans can be! In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes a reference to Naaman the Syrian. Who is this Naaman? Well, we read of Naaman in 2 Kings 5, he is a commander in the army of Aram–a nation regularly at war with Israel in this time period. He’s got a problem, leprosy.

Through his wife, Naaman came in contact with an Israelite girl who had been captured by his army on one of their many raids into Israel. This Israelite girl suggests that Naaman could be cured of his leprosy through a prophet in Samaria. Talk about unexpected.

But, that’s not the end of it. Naaman gets permission from his king, and heads off to meet the king of Israel with a letter from the king of Aram that goes something like, “I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kgs 5:6). The king of Israel reads this letter and his reaction is just about what mine would be–WHAT!?! How am I supposed to do this? God, you must have made some mistake here…

It’s not a mistake. Just the difference between my plan and God’s plan when it comes to witnessing to my faith. God sends people into our lives, ready to hear our testimony, our word of faith. But, it’s easy to feel caught off guard, or simply without the “right” skills to respond. Fortunately for the king of Israel, the prophet Elisha gets wind of his predicament and Naaman heads off to see Elisha.

And now Naaman gets his surprise. The prophet Elisha tells him to bathe himself seven times in the Jordan River. That’s it. A risky journey from Aram to Israel, and “the answer” is bathing in a simple river? Can this be for real? Will this work? Sometimes I’m tempted to see God’s promptings in the same way–skipping over a simple act of charity, hospitality, warmth, conversation, eye-contact, or even just offering a smile–because I’m assuming that God must want me to do something “big” as part of His divine plan.

The story of Naaman…a reminder to:

  • Not be surprised or dismissive of who God places in our lives.
  • Have faith that when God sets us up for an encounter to share the faith, God also empowers us. We do have something to share, even if it seems insignificant to us.
  • Never doubt that the small and ordinary can be used by God. The witness God calls me to this week or this month might be as boring as bathing in the Jordan, but that’s why in the end, it’s God’s plan–not mine. 

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