Yesterday was an exciting day. Heather and I have been running ragged a little lately , but some friends were graciously coming over to watch the kids and let us go out for a date. We weren’t sure were where we going, but we knew it would involve peace and quiet, some coffee, and staring deeply into one another’s eyes. It definitely wasn’t supposed to end up looking like this…
I accidentally broke off the faucet while the tub was filling, and there was no way to shut it off. Water was pouring out, so we had to shut off the water for the whole house. After we explained to our heroic babysitters that it would helpful if no one went to the bathroom that evening, we headed out to Home Depot for date night.
We sat in silence in the car for a little bit, and I couldn’t get one recurring thought out of my head. “God, we deserved a normal date night tonight.”
If I’m honest, I have that thought a lot. Not about date nights per se, but about circumstances in general. I am smart enough to not say them out loud, but deep down I often think….
“God after all I’ve done for you, I deserve….”
Ironically, I have recently been reading I & II Kings, and one of my favorite (and most convicting) passages about this very subject is found in there. It is the story of a man named Naaman, the prophet Elisha & Elisha’s servant Gehazi. I won’t bore you with a long recap, since you can read it yourself in II Kings 5:1-27, but the gist of it is this. Elisha heals Naaman from leprosy, and Naaman is amazed. He exclaims “behold, i know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel“. God’s name is made famous to an influential leader. It’s a big deal. Then Naaman offers Elisha a gift, but Elisha refuses to accept it and sends Naaman on his way.
But his servant Gehazi isn’t pleased. He decides that in light of all they have done, Elisha should have taken that gift. “See my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
So he leaves Elijah and chases after Naaman to “get something from him.” (this picture sums the story up well)
What is fascinating to me is that Gehazi had literally been seeing MIRACLES take place. In addition to the healing of Naaman, in chapter 4 we see God use Elisha to raise a child from the dead! (II Kings 4:18-37) And yet, somehow he was in a place of discontent.
I have to admit, I get that feeling. I am constantly telling people what a privilege it is to serve the Lord, to pastor here at h2o, to see lives radically changed by Jesus….and I DO believe that, but when circumstances are hard, I can find myself easily wishing for more. Like a normal date night.
I think one of the greatest temptations for followers of Christ, especially those in full-time ministry, to is start believing that God owes us something.
- I deserve more respect. more thanks. more appreciation.
- I deserve more support. more encouragement.
- I deserve more money. A car that doesn’t breakdown. An office.
- I deserve circumstances to go right. I deserve a break. I deserve some quiet.
- I deserve a spouse, or a friend, or a child, or a more obedient child.
- (insert your demand here)
…because I am have sacrificed so much.
It belies a wrong way of thinking about our lives. As if we are victims, who struggle and toil for a harsh taskmaster…..rather than honored participants in God’s redeeming work on this planet.
Now I don’t think it was surprising for Gehazi to feel this way. We all feel this way. (it’s not just me, right?) This is part of the mystery of walking with the Lord. We don’t understand. We don’t see clearly. So many times we feel gypped (is that still a word?).
And we have a choice to make.
Gehazi decided to just go get what he wanted.
He deceived Elisha, went to Naaman and asked for a piece of silver and two changes of clothing. He was caught, and was afflicted with leprosy as a result. Strangely the story doesn’t end there, he actually continued to serve Elisha. (we see him again in chapter 8) And as you read it is hard not to imagine the regret he must have felt. The moments of quiet when his mind turned back to what he did…he must have thought, “it just wasn’t worth it.” A lousy piece of silver and two sets of clothing.
As I get older one of my prayers is that I will not let discontentment fester and go the route of Gehazi. Where I just decide to punt and go pursue what i think I “deserve”. Luckily there is another path.
We can take our discontentment to God.
We don’t have to pretend like it isn’t there. Or fake like we can handle it. Or kill those desires.
He’s a good Father. He gets it. He knows it’s not easy. And He’s patient. He’ll sit with us as we whine a little. Then He gently leads us back to remember the truth….and the truth is He is wants us to have good gifts. And He has shown us more grace and mercy than we could ever imagine. And there are bigger things in life than a piece of silver and two sets of clothes. Or a normal date night.
We just forget sometimes.