Friday, July 02, 2010

Do you have a message to deliver?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 5:1-19a

TO CHEW ON: "And the Syrians had gone out on raids and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife. Then she said to her mistress, 'If only my master were with the prophet who is in samara! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'" 2 Kings 5:2-3

The scenario of the little captive Hebrew girl giving her mistress this word of hope has always fired my imagination. Some years ago I wrote a fictionalized account of the story. I'm going to share it with you today (which will make this devo a bit longer than most; sorry about that!).



Was that mother? Tamra stirred in the happy darkness of sleep.

“Tamra! Rise you lazy thing!”

Tamra opened her eyes, saw the gray walls and remembered. She was far from home, a slave in General Naaman’s house. She jumped up, dressed and hurried into the kitchen.

“At last!” Saleem picked up the small pitcher. Tamra followed with the steaming jug, through the brightening courtyard, up the stairs to Mistress’s chamber.

As they entered, Tamra glanced at Mistress. Her eyes were red, her face swollen. She’d been crying!

Saleem became all sweetness. “Will your highness have the full hair dressing today?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Mistress said. She sounded sad. While Tamra waited for Saleem’s next order, she studied Mistress’s face. Something was wrong.

Saleem, seeing Tamra idle, dismissed her with a jerk of her head toward the door.

Back in the kitchen, Tamra helped Amram arrange a tray of pomegranates and grapes. But she thought of Mistress. “Why does Mistress weep?” she finally asked.

“Haven’t you heard?” Amram replied. “Master has leprosy.”

Leprosy! The word hit like a slap. “Will he be banished?”

“When he’s sick and crippled.”

Proud, fierce Naaman, a leper! Tamra mulled over this incredible fact as she put the final touches on the tray. This changed everything – again.

The changes had begun that horrible day she and mother had been walking home from market in Shunem. They’d stepped off the road at the sound of hoof beats. But the soldiers stopped anyway. One leaped off his horse and came straight for her. She could still hear mother’s scream and feel his roughness as he swung her onto his horse. She’d been tied with others and a few days later Master’s servant brought her here.

Now Saleem swept into the kitchen to get the tray. “Sweep the courtyard girl!” she commanded, cutting off Tamra’s remembering.

Tamra began the long task. But today the rhythm was soothing as she untwisted her tangled thoughts. What did Naaman’s leprosy mean? Maybe what her parents had taught her about Yahweh was true after all. Since she’d come here, God had felt far away and everything she believed had seemed turned on its head. But now Captain Naaman and Mistress had a problem too. Doctors and medicines couldn’t cure leprosy.

But wait! In Israel there was someone – the prophet. Yahweh himself talked to Elisha. He had done all kinds of miracles. He’d even raised her little brother’s friend from the dead. Elisha could heal Naaman. The thought made Tamra’s heart pound hard. She would tell Mistress!

Tamra looked up towards Mistress’s room. Was Saleem still inside? She certainly didn’t want to talk to Mistress with her around. Tamra finished sweeping while watching the stairs. No Saleem. She must have come down. Now would be a good time.

Tamra tiptoed up the stairs and tapped on Mistress’s door. A second later Saleem flung it open, stared at her, then hissed, “What do you want?”

“I want to speak with Mistress.” Tamra could hardly hear her own voice.

Saleem’s eyes narrowed. “No!” Her voice was full of hate. “You may never talk to her! Now get on with your chores, or you’ll be whipped.”

Tamra trembled as she crept down the stairs. Now she’d done it! She got the wash bucket and began to scrub the kitchen floor. But she couldn’t forget the idea that Master Naaman must see Elisha. The thought burned in her – as if Yahweh himself had given her this message to deliver. She had to tell Mistress somehow. Please, Yahweh, please, she prayed silently over and over. Please make a way.

Tamra woke before Saleem called her next morning. As she remembered what she must do, she felt afraid. In the kitchen the towels and jugs were ready, but Saleem was nowhere around.

“Saleem is ill,” Amram told her..

Tamra felt a shiver go through her. God had heard!

Amram helped carry the jugs up to Mistress’s room, then left. Tamra was suddenly nervous. She felt her face go crimson. “What is your pleasure?” she asked, not looking up.

“Where’s Saleem?” Mistress’s voice was sharp.

Tamra’s fear grew. What if her talk of Elisha made Mistress angry instead of glad?

“She’s ill,” Tamra replied. She glanced up at Mistress’s face, then, and saw again the red-rimmed eyes. She looked so sad.

“Pour the water,” Mistress said.

Tamra did her jobs. Mistress spoke only to tell her what to do next. Finally they were at the last thing. As Tamra gathered the hair jewels, she know she had to speak now or this chance would be past. Panic rose inside her. She breathed a prayer and took a deep breath.

“I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria.” she blurted. “He would heal him of his leprosy.”

Mistress grew still. Then she turned around and looked at Tamra. “What did you say, little maid? Say it again.”

Was she angry or glad? Tamra couldn’t tell. But somehow it didn’t matter any more. For now that she had done what she must, she felt Yahweh’s presence like warm sunshine after a cloudy day. He was here. He would take care of her. “I wish Master Naaman would go to see the prophet in Samaria,” she said again. “He would heal him of his leprosy.” This time her voice was confident and strong.

A little sidebar article in my Bible comments:
"See the importance of sharing the hope of God's healing with others. The door to Naaman's healing was opened by the Jewish maid who recommended he seek out the prophet Elisha. Believers do good when they witness to others of both the saving and healing power of Jesus." Nathaniel Van Cleave - "Lessons in Sharing Healing Hope," New Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 488.

If God is impressing on you someone who needs to hear the message of the possibility of physical healing, share that message (with childlike faith) today!

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the example of this Hebrew child. Help my faith to be as simple, implicit and obedient. Amen.

MORE: Want to read more about divine healing?

Andrew Murray's entire book Divine Healing is online. The chapters I checked out are short. Read and be encouraged.

* "A Message to Deliver" was first published in the March 2002 issue of Clubhouse Magazine.

Guess what - the very morning I'm writing this devotional, which Scripture comes up in my kids' devotionalsThis exact story (yes I do write these a month or so ahead). How cool is that!!

 Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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