Last week, our little family fell victim to a random, ordinary flu-like virus. High fevers, coughing, headaches, loss of appetites, and Momma forcing us to drink when our throats felt they were made of razor blades.
Mommas can be so mean.
As I was stripping germ-infested sheets off of beds, I heard, “You asked for more time. More hours in the day to focus on your calling.” And I realized, I had spent almost an entire week snuggling miracle littles, catching up on much-needed cleaning, studying God’s word, and writing words of gratitude.
God used an ordinary sick week to answer my prayers.
This season has me thinking about Naaman, the great commander of the armies of the king of Aram. Probably, he comes to mind because of his love language. Gifts. Naaman knew how to throw around some lavish stuff.
But while Naaman might have been victorious on the battlefield, he was losing the war against leprosy. There was nothing he could buy for healing. Not a donation he could make to get him access to some experimental medicine. He had no offering to give in order to receive a miracle. But he tried.
Through some Aramean raiders, Naaman acquired an Israelian girl he gave his wife to be her maid. Knowing the Commander suffered from a nasty skin disease, that Israelian servant girl suggested to Naaman’s wife that he go to see “the prophet in Samaria.” She knew he could heal Naaman.
The maid tells the wife, the wife tells her husband, and Naaman tells the king.
Sire, there’s a guy and rumor has it, he can heal me of this leprosy thing.
The king agreed to allow Naaman to travel to Samaria and provided a letter of introduction for the king of Israel. Basically, one king sent another king a text message. Something very impressive like, “Naaman’s cool. He’s just there for the healing. Nothing tricky going on. Pinky promise!”
Naaman shows up like Aladdin pretending to the Prince Ali Ababwa. Remember that?
“With sixty elephants, llamas galore
With his bears and lions
A brass band and more
With his forty fakirs, his cooks, his bakers
His birds that warble on key
Make way for Prince Ali!”
Naaman rides up to the king of Israel with 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, ten sets of clothes, and his text message of introduction.
How many elephants and llamas do you think it takes to carry 750 pounds of silver?
Make way for the Great Naaman!
(HARD EYE ROLL)
(Just like Jasmin watching Prince Ali entering the palace.)
The king of Israel responds with his own drama, tearing his clothes in dismay and yelling out, “Am I God, that I can give life and take it away?” He’s rather suspicious of all this GRANDNESS thinking this is totally a trick.
(Again, HARD EYE ROLL)
Elisha, the prophet and the one the Israeli servant spoke of, heard about Naaman with his letter and ten sets of clothes (what?) AND he heard about the king’s little tantrum so he sent a text message of his own to the king saying, “What in the ACTUAL world are you doing? Send that dude to me and I’ll show him there is a real prophet in Isreal.”
But Elisha doesn’t show who he is with STUFF, like Naaman. Nope, he doesn’t even go out to meet Naaman. He sends A MESSENGER. The great army commander, standing at the front door with chariots and horses (GALORE!), doesn’t even get to meet the prophet. Elisha texts him instead. “Go to the Jordan. Wash in the river seven times. Boom. Healed. You’re welcome.”
Naaman gets a bit irritated by this text message.
He rolled up to town with his very own “world-class menagerie” and he expected to be treated like the important person he was. And in a way, the king of Israel obliged. What with all that clothes tearing and flailing around about not being God and giving the display of wealthy the side-eye.
But Elisha was having none of it.
Listen, thanks for coming with…ummm…ALL THAT, Naaman. But your healing is gonna come from doing an ordinary, every-day, walking-around life thing. Taking a bath. And not even in one of the fancy rivers. Just in this regular one right where you are at this moment.
Thankfully, his officers talked some sense into him and convinced him to do this simple thing. Take a bath. And he did and he was healed.
Naaman expected the spectacular.
He got the ordinary.
Spectacular for Ordinary…
Maybe this is just me, but I often expect God to speak to me in the spectacular. Because He’s God. He tells the wind where to blow and reminds the sun to move. Surely, He intends to do the spectacular in my life. Surely!
But almost 100% of the time, He speaks to me in the ordinary.
Like when I am stripping gem-infested sheets off of little beds. Scrubbing toilets, already on my knees. Folding laundry that won’t stay folded once the children “neatly” put away their clothes. Packing lunches. Stirring pots of pasta and marina sauce.
I expect the spectacular but often get the ordinary.
Which leaves me thinking perhaps God values my ordinary much more than I do.
Maybe I approach God like Naaman, with offerings of vast worldly importance, and maybe He sends me straight back to the ordinary, to where I am at that very minute.
A New Holiday Plumb Line…
Gratitude is a language we learn to speak. It starts small and we don’t despise our small beginnings because God tells us not to. Instead, we believe learning to speak the language of gratitude, the very soul words that allow us to build our lives rooted in Christ, starts small and that small is our plumb line.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” ~Zechariah 4:10
But, Y’all, let’s just be honest and say nothing about the holidays feels small or ordinary. The holidays don’t even feel just big and exciting because when we take the time to be completely honest, the holidays feel massive and overwhelming. So large we can barely keep up, much less catch our breath.
So, we push through. We go to this party, donate to that charity, wrap ten thousand gifts, purchase more than we intended, eat more than we’d like, and in the blink of an eye, the holidays are over and all we are is exhausted, empty, and swimming in gifts for which we have to find a place and a purpose.
Maybe we approach the holiday season like Naaman.
Bringing 750 pounds of events and entertaining, 150 pounds of gifts to give, receive and donate, and ten new outfits for band concerts, dance recitals, Christmas card pictures, company Holiday parties, and matching PJ’s for Christmas morning.
Make way for Holiday Spectacular!
And maybe, like me, you find yourself limping out of the season wondering if ALL THAT had any purpose at all.
But what if we decided to do it differently this year?
What if we created a new holiday plumb line?
What if we entered the holidays with our small and ordinary?
What if we decided to not try and have the world’s most spectacular holiday?
What if we changed our path, started fresh, and set out to plan a simple, quiet season?
And what if, in the middle of our every-day, walking-around life, God used our ordinary gratitude to build a life rooted in Him?
This week, with whatever beginning God led you to last week, let’s stop trying to bring our spectacular to God. Our fancy dinners, our big gifts we might not be able to afford, our striving and getting and performing. Our very own spectacular holiday season.
The world might see our spectacular like the king of Israel saw Naaman’s gifts… grand, over-the-top, and a little suspicious.
But God? He’s like Elisha. He’s not even one bit concerned about the spectacular we can offer Him. He doesn’t even need to see it.
Because He has already given us everything.
Instead, let’s start offering Him our every-day, walking-around ordinary life as thanks.
For toothless smiles, for fresh strawberries on sale, adorable, crazy bed-head hair in the mornings.
For Netflix when kids are home with 103-degree fevers. For husband’s flirting, even after almost 17 years of marriage.
For syringes of medicine and pharmacies on every corner.
For sheets to clean and countertops to wipe and food to cook.
This is our new holiday plumb line. Our small beginning where God lives and meets us. Exactly where we are and with what He has already given us.
Grateful offerings in our ordinary, in the middle of our every-day, walking-around life.
What is your ordinary holiday plumb line today?
What about your every-day walking-around life can you offer to God so you can build your life rooted in Him?