II Kings 5.1-14 is a story filled with powerful figures. Naaman, the commander of an army has leprosy. Naaman tells his king that he believes there is a cure for his leprosy in Israel. The king sends Naaman with a letter to the king of Israel, asking for a cure. The king of Israel thinks it is a trap, “I cannot cure this guy! When I fail, the king will just use that as an excuse to invade Israel. What can I do?”
So the prophet Elisha says, “Send Naaman to me.” The king is so desperate that he sends the army commander to the prophet, hoping the prophet can cure Naaman of his leprosy.
When Naaman arrives at the house of Elisha, the prophet does not come out to meet him. Instead, Elisha sends his servant to tell the army commander to go and wash himself in the River Jordan.
Naaman is furious. The Jordan river is not a very strong, powerful river. Yes, it is important in the Bible, since it forms part of the boundary of the promised land and is the main water source for the country. But the Jordan river is not one of the major waterways of the world. In fact, Naaman is from a land of larger and more impressive rivers. “Why could I not wash at home?” he asks. “What is so special about this river? It is little more than a muddy creek.”
This is a great point to notice that while this seems like a story about impressive and powerful leaders, it is really a story about how God often works through some little, almost unnoticed means. Some of the most important people in this story are not even named.
It is a young slave girl who sets all this action into motion. On one of his raiding parties into Israel, Naaman has captured a young Israelite girl. She becomes a slave in Naaman’s house, working for his wife. She is the one who first says that she wishes Naaman could go to Israel and be cured.
When Naaman goes to the house of Elisha, he is greeted by Elisha’s unnamed servant with the instructions to go wash in the Jordan.
Naaman does not think the River Jordan is as important as the rivers of Damascus, so why should he bother washing there?
Finally, it is the servants of Naaman who convince him to try the prophet’s prescription of washing in the Jordan.
Like Naaman, I often only expect God to act in the extraordinary and powerful ways. I look for God to speak through the powerful and well-known figures. I wonder how many miracles I miss because I do not expect God to work through the tiny rivers, the nameless servants or the tasks that I think are just too easy for God to be involved in?
At the end of the day, Naaman did not care that his miracle came from the tiny waters of the River Jordan, or through the suggestion of a young servant girl, or that the instructions were delivered by the prophet’s messenger and not the prophet himself; Naaman knew he was cured. How it happened and who gave the instructions did not diminish the miracle.
This week I have been at camp with some 300+ elementary and middle school kids and their counselors. I have watched kids who have never spent a night out under the stars hike off to an overnight camp and rush to tell me the next morning about how they survived. I listened as a group of kids encouraged a teammate who was not sure she could climb to the top of a tower. I had a group of kids cheer me on as I got my harness on and rode the zip-line. I watched kids practice compassion, empathy and forgiveness. Miracles encouraged by counselors, staff and camp directors. Miracles no less important or less impressive than an Aramean general being cleansed of leprosy by dipping seven times in a muddy creek called the Jordan. What miracles are taking place before you today?