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2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c

Uncomfortable voice Naaman was the leader of an army. That’s a position that must be earned through battle, respect, cunning, bravery, strategy. He worked hard to earn his place. Now he has leprosy, a debilitating skin disease. All that he has worked for, all that he is has earned is unraveling. Now he is confronted with an enemy that he can’t fight in battle. He needs a healing that he can’t earn, win, or buy. All of his resources are now useless and the power brokers he might have leverage have nothing for him.

If Naaman were fighting an enemy like the Philistines or the Moabites, he could have turned to his military advisors. If Naaman had been confronted with a political challenge, he could have turned to the Kings magistrates. I can’t imagine another scenario where someone like Naaman would have turned and listened to a young slave girl, captured from their enemy, Israel.

In fact, this captured girl, whose name we are not given, her very presence in this story is a reminder that Naaman is good at his job. It reminds us that in the last confrontation between Israel and Aram, God gave the victory to Naaman and the Arameans and NOT to Israel, God’s chosen people. Her presence in the story confronts us with that uncomfortable past.

This girl gives me more reason for discomfort, even rage. She is captured, against her will, treated as cattle, and yet God uses her in this story to bless her captor. It sets my skin on edge and reminds me of the countless nameless victims in our world whose stories will never be told. I am angry that we have to be confronted with her presence, her witness. But Naaman chooses to listen to her. He gives ear to this uncomfortable voice because he has nowhere else to turn.

And then Naaman follows the slave girl’s instructions. Sort of. Naaman shows up with all his silver and gold and garments and surely his entourage, not at the prophets house but at the palace of the king of Israel. I’m guessing it is quite the diplomatic display. But he can’t impress his way into healing. The King of Israel, says, “I can’t cure you, I am not God.” Finally, Naaman sets off for the prophet’s house.

Naaman, commander of the army of Aram, comes to the driveway of the prophet’s house, which probably has a much lower Air BNB rating than the palace. Elisha sends his servant out to meet him… in the driveway. He is not greeted in a palace or sanctuary but in the driveway of a crazy prophet’s house. This is where he is told to wash in the Jordan River.

The Breaking Point This summer we taught our kids how to swim in the ocean. It’s not much fun when you get caught in the crash of the waves, so we took them out past the breaking point. Beyond where the water breaks they could bob up and down the swells and feel what it is like to float on the salty water. But it took a while before they could build up the courage to swim out past the curl of those waves, past the breaking point.

Being told to wash in the Jordan River, this is the breaking point for Naaman. Look how far out of his comfort zone he has come. Look how uncomfortable he is: listening to slave girls, traveling to the driveway of the prophet of his enemies, being given instructions by a servant to go and wash in the river that parted for these Israelites to come and invade their land. Enough! That is the breaking point. Naaman blows up and he is done.

He could have walked away with his pride intact and no one would have blamed him. Who would ask the commander of the Aramean army to bath in the Jordan River? Who would expect someone like Naaman to do something so undignified? He could have returned to Aram where he is respected and surrounded by respectabl