Now that I am back, I am going to try to pick up on some of the memes of the past that have meaning still two years later. One of those is Monday Morning Meditation. Maybe some day I will update and improve them and organize them into a book. For now, I am happy just to be back talking about these topics. So, since I left off with the Book of Second Kings, I am returning to chapter and verse where I left off before. This week, the first story, the next in line, is the story of Naaman, who was cured of leprosy by Elisha.
Reading: II Kings 5: 1-27
Meditation: Sometimes, the details can be as important—or, at least, as revealing (perhaps of something else)—as the point of a story. The story of Naaman is well known. The "bottom line" presented in the last couple of verses is also well known: the greedy, unthankful servant does not get all the goodies he wants but rather is infected with leprosy. That bottom line, however, is not what attracted my attention this Monday, Rather, it was something that is very common (at least, with me, and, I suspect, with many). When Elisha's messenger told Naaman to wash in the Jordan River seven times and he would be cleansed, Naaman could not accept this at first. It was not what he expected of a prophet of God. (Sort of like Jesus not being what the Pharisees expected from a messiah.)
Having lived in Jordan and having spent time in and around the seemingly very ordinary (and, actually, nowadays drying up) Jordan River, I can understand why Naaman would not think that this river would have any "special" properties. Of course, it was not the river but how God used the river that mattered. (An aside: God has used that river a lot!)
This seemingly minor detail strikes me as equally important as the bottom line. This so often happens to me. I want/need an answer to something, or guidance, and God sends me an answer, but in a form I don't recognize or want to accept. Sometimes, it is a colleague telling me something I don't want to hear. Sometimes, it is a door that won't open, one that I keep trying when another, better is right beside it, and I am not seeing it. How I left Jordan is one such example. I had received multiple calls from the States, offering me a very good job to come back to California. However, I wanted to stay in Jordan. Suddenly, my job there dried up. I attempted to find another job there; all doors were closed although I was well known and had an excellent reputation. Then, friends tried. Same deal: all doors were closed. I was left with no alternative other than to accept the job in California.
Two aspects of the importance of that job became clear over time. One was for my benefit: it brought me back to the States at a time when my son, Shane, was about to become a father to two children, both with serious medical issues, now under control. I would not have been able to help him while being far away in Jordan. The other was for the benefit of the people at my workplace. I ended up as the senior manager there, and I have been able to help many. I know that is where God wants me, but that is a story for another time.
And that is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I retire to prayer, to thank God for the ongoing ways in which He keeps messaging me even though I don't always listen well, to ask Him to keep knocking (with my promise of trying to be better at opening the doors he puts in front of me), and to praise Him for His great love and persistence. After that, I will spend as much time as I can in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.