Have you ever had a dream? I have…
- When I was five, I dreamed of being a garbage man.
- When I was ten, I dreamed of being fifteen.
- When I was fifteen, I dreamed of being a baseball player.
- When I was twenty, I day-dreamed.
- When I was twenty-five, I dreamed of finishing school.
- When I was thirty, I dreamed of a dynamic ministry.
Do you remember your dreams? More than likely, your dream reflected the best of all possible worlds. It pictured in your mind’s eye what life would be like without any barriers and with every resource available for your use.
One of the tensions with life, however, is that the best of all possible worlds are more often reflections than reality. And barriers do exist and resources are limited. So dreams are altered. What we desired is not attained, or even worse (in our estimation), cannot be attained. And discouragement and maybe even disillusionment overwhelm us. What to do?
I was reminded recently of the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. His dream was pretty simple — to be healthy. His longing would be expected for a man who had leprosy, and even more so for a man of his prominence. And while he didn’t suffer the same humiliation in Aram because of his leprosy that he would have experienced in Israel, it was still a disease that would ultimately take his life if allowed to run its course.
Through the gracious hand of God and the counsel of a young Israelite servant girl, Naaman was sent to the prophet Elisha (vv. 2-8). But when Naaman arrived at Elisha’s home, the prophet didn’t come out to greet him, but rather sent him word through a messenger to wash himself in the Jordan seven times and he would be cleansed (vv. 9-10).
But rather than go, he grumped. His complaint was two-fold. (1) The reality of the command interfered with the dream of the cure. He wanted to be treated as a special dignitary with an impressive healing display (v. 11). Instead, his prideful desire had been wounded by Elisha’s “inattention.” (2) He considered the Jordan both unimpressive and undignified. So he turned his back on Elisha and his command and left. Only the insightful words of his servants allowed him to see the truth (v. 13).
Elisha’s instruction was intended to reveal the power of God (to be dunked seven times was to indicate that the healing was completely the work of God) and to reveal his faith (it was not the water which healed, but the exercise of his obedient faith).
Naaman’s test for faith is similar to our test for obedience and submission. The question is not whether we are willing to do the great thing for God. Most are more than willing to do that. The question is whether we will do the humble, simple, submissive task. Naaman’s story illustrates again that faithfulness is cultivated and developed in the little tasks (Lk. 16:10-12).
So here’s the question for us today: what are your dreams and desires? What are you longing to do? What are you seeking God to do through you? Better than identifying our desires, however, is determining how faithful we are willing to be to what God calls us to do. Greater than a dream of significance, healing, or some measure of prosperity, is the desire to be considered by God to be faithful to the end (Mt. 25:21ff).