In the next 30 seconds…
2 Kings 5:1-14 (NIVUK)
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lordhad given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 ‘By all means, go,’ the king of Aram replied. ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: ‘With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.’
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, ‘Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!’
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘Why have you torn your robes? Make the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
Sometimes when we are really longing for something we want it to happen in the next 30 seconds. We don’t want to wait for it or work for it. It’s not enough to be given an answer, or a cure, or recognition, or triumph or whatever else it is we are looking for — we want it now. Often the waiting, and the ambiguity and the ambivalence is worse than the possible outcome. We just want to cut to the chase. No faff. ‘Just tell me’ or ‘Show me’ or ‘Give it to me.’
In our theme ‘Game On’ we’re exploring how games and sports can give us new insights into discipleship — the practice of following Jesus’ example. Playing with others can help us to build trust, cooperation, and integrity — it’s also fun! And our God delights in fun.
One of the things that’s fun about sports is how you can lose yourself in the moment.There’s usually a timer or some other pressure that focuses the mind. You are given snatches, 30 second bursts, to make judgements and seize the initiative. This can be a freeing experience but every 30 seconds is linked to the 30 minutes of warm up before and the 30 minutes of play still to go. Then there’s the 30 days of training, the 30 weeks of the season still to play, and the 30 months of coaching that have got you to this point. Then there’s the 30 years ahead of you with all the twists and turns they’ll bring.
Naaman, in the reading, didn’t want to wait 30 seconds to be healed, let alone the roundtrip to the banks of the Jordan. An elite Soldier, he was like a superstar sportsman who is benched and doesn’t want to go through extended rehab.
As athletes, as disciples, as broken people needing healing we have to learn that the intense 30 second bursts of life are part of a sequence of 30 days, 30 weeks, 30 months, 30 years, 30 centuries, 30 millennia… and on… Sometimes everything comes together in a beautiful moment on the field, but in order to get there often we have to wait and we have to work.
Lover of all — those who are weary and those who are bursting with enthusiasm —
help us to work
help us to wait.