Today in Sunday School we were talking about Naaman, the Syrian who had a Hebrew servant and listened to her when she presented to him a cure for leprosy. I was asked to read the account, and while standing and reading, I fumbled the wording. It piqued my interest, because I knew it wasn’t right, but it seemed so right that I couldn’t find my mistake, and I stood for what was probably only milliseconds, but felt like an eternity, pondering the differences.
I was supposed to read (after he was healed) that “he returned to the man of God, he and all his company …” but instead I read “he returned to the company of his God.” I looked at it for what seemed minutes and what I said just felt right.
It’s well known that leprosy is a metaphor for disassociation from God. Since that’s a choice that happens on only one side of the equation (our side), disassociation from God is a choice to renounce his company. That was the overwhelming part of the healing, to me, as I stood in front of the room knowing I didn’t have it right, but that I did. He was reunited with God. He was healed.
In the New Testament, Jesus said a similar thing, over and over, and it really ticked off the Pharisees. He said, “Your sins are forgiven you,” and healed people. Or at least once, paraphrased, “which is easier, to forgive sins or to heal?” They were the same thing. To be healed is to be whole, and to be whole is to be reunited with God.
We’ve all known relationships that were strained, or broken, and the sadness that brings. To be reunited is often our fondest desire, but it always takes two who have the same end in mind for that to be possible. It frequently can’t be mended, and even when it is restored, it is odd, full of scar tissue, no longer wounds, but no longer really whole either.
A girl told a powerful man who didn’t have her heritage of faith that a man in a faraway land could not only take away this horrible, debilitating illness, but that he could be whole. And he believed her. And even though he had set in his mind the way that that healing would come to him, he listened again and was willing to believe. And it said that his flesh was like a little child.
If you’ve ever had a terrible skin disease or seen its ravages, you know that it can be removed, but it will be scarred and ugly. Leprosy left not only skin, but nerve damage. Naaman was whole, as if it had never been. This is another wonder of the miracle. But even beyond that, and much more importantly, he was restored to the company of his God. He was aware that a creator being whom he had never known cared enough about him to take away his pain and humiliation.
What would I give to have old relationships restored, as if nothing had ever happened? What would I give, if I didn’t already know, to have the creator of all the universe as my Father again?
It’s easy to believe that the healing that occurred was about rotting flesh made smooth. It was more. He was whole again. He returned to the company of his God, and it was as if he had never been gone. That God can do that is a wonder.
Somehow, seen that way, that giving up my self-destructive habits and attitudes is as easy as a decision to “return to the company of God,” everything unnecessary is pared away. I’d much rather have old relationships healed as if nothing had ever happened than to have, say, the pain in my left leg go away or my digestion fixed. Those are real things to me, but nothing surpasses in importance a relationship.
I’m convinced that if I could remember what it is God is really offering me, I’d never be sick again.