DISCLAIMER: she picked that identification not me! So, that said….
I’m all about “which Bible character – or combination thereof – are you”? Mine is primarily the Woman at the Well turned Jonah the “do I really have to Lord” chick. Two of my girlfriends are the Sinful Woman with the alabaster oil. My husband is a combo of King David, Paul and Peter. Depends on the day you know. Then there is my Leper friend.
This past Sunday she came over for lunch after church. She was SO EXCITED because she had just discovered her Bible identity that morning at church. She is Naaman “the leper” (found at 2 Kings 5). For just a moment lets forget that Naaman is a leper. Naaman is the commander of the king of Aram’s army and has given Aram great victories. He is known as a mighty man of valor and is a well-respected person who likely possesses strong leadership skills. I bet when he speaks, people listen. Yep, sounds very much like my friend. There is one slight issue however. Naaman has leprosy. Sure, other people have leprosy, but Naaman having leprosy is an issue because of who Naaman is and the great things he has done. Oh, and who knows what he may have the potential to do in the future.
My curious mind was reeling so I googled leprosy and found myself enjoying the information on Wikipedia. Leprosy is a chronic infection with external signs that make it obvious that “something is wrong” and you are not healthy. Left untreated it causes permanent damage. And “the age-old social stigma” associated with it kept people from self-reporting it to get early treatment. So, lepers felt helpless. They believed there was no cure. Once a leper always a leper. It comes their new identity. They were often banished from the rest of civilization and remained together in leper colonies. Their leper colonies became their new community. Wow, my friend is the leper. Yeah… I can see that. Though I still see her for the warrior, leader, celebrity that she is on the inside.
Anyway. Where was I? She was SO EXCITED discovering her identity and she said that she wished she knew what her spiritual gifts were because she believes that all gifts and talents are really created by God for His use. Hmmm… I agree with that. And I just happened to have a blank spiritual gifts test hanging out in my email inbox from my life group leader. Ta Da. Love how that works out. We printed her the test and she took it right then and there. Her gifts were Mercy, Exhortation, and Faith. OH MY GOSH YES!!! It actually said – and I couldn’t make this up – that examples for use of those gifts are serving in Celebrate Recovery or working with the counseling team. She has worked with Narcotics Anonymous for at least 2 years and helps with the Dallas Drug Court group where she successfully graduated the full program. I actually went to her graduation ceremony where she gave all of the glory to her success to God almighty through Jesus Christ which is her “higher power”. Then she asked an entire room (of at least 150 people) to gather in a circle as she lead them all in prayer. She is in college full time pursuing a degree in social work with a focus on substance abuse counseling. Yep, that test pegged her and her amazing gifts all right. Except…. oh yeah. She has leprosy. She’s so incredible that I sometimes forget about the leprosy.
Back to Naaman… Elisha’s message to him for healing was for Naaman to go wash in the (dirty, nasty, icky) Jordan River seven times so that his “flesh shall be restored…and you shall be clean [healed]”. And Naaman became furious! (2 Kings 5:10-11). Oh yeah, that part fits well with my friend too LOL. But actually, Naaman did end up obeying the prophet, went and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, and was cleansed.
All that is FABULOUS!!! But I would not be exercising my spiritual gifts if this blog ended there. I want to go look at one more thing. The story of the Ten Healed of Leprosy (Luke 17:11-17). Jesus (yep himself in person) entered a village where ten lepers cried out to Him saying “Jesus, have mercy on us!” So He said to them “go, show yourselves to the priests” and as they went they were healed (NOTE: in both instances the leper had to obey the instructions and were healed as they obeyed… ). One of the healed lepers returned to Jesus and fell down on his face at His feet giving him thanks. Only one of them. One. Jesus said “didn’t I heal ten…where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God….”. God has been in the healing business for a very long time be it for Naaman or the ten that were calling out or my friend. And many receive what God can do for them but so few in comparison return to God to give Him thanks and serve Him.
May your leper flesh be healed sister and I pray that you will be the one that does come back to be a true disciple and follower of Christ where God’s will, wants and desires for your life become first priority over your flesh nature, personal will, wants and desires for your life. Yes, I hope you are THAT one.