God Doesn’t Always Follow Our Plan
Imagine being in the middle of a crowd of people. You have no elbow room and you can practically feel everyone breathing on you. You suddenly hear a loud, hacking cough. You look for its source and see a man whose eyes are bloodshot and his nose is red. He looks miserable as he coughs all over everyone around him.
That may not seem bad to you, but if you’ve lived in Minnesota for a winter or two like I have, you know the signs of a nasty cold—the kind of cold that is contagious and, naturally speaking, can take out a family for a couple weeks or more.
Now, picture the same scene, but this time, it’s a deadly disease being spread: leprosy. That’s essentially what happened in Matthew 8:1–4. A leper who had been quarantined away from the public was in the middle of a multitude trying to reach Jesus. His disease was highly contagious and deadly, a combination you certainly don’t want in a crowded street.
It took courage—and a lot of humility—to place aside worries about what other people would think, head into the middle of the crowd, find Jesus, and worship at His feet. His humility, though, was one of the keys that opened the door to his healing.
Let me show you this same truth, but from a different perspective. In 2 Kings 5:1, we see a high-ranking official named Naaman had the same problem the leper had.
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 Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. (NIV)
Naaman got together his staff in his big limo and drove down to check out Israel’s prophet, Elisha. They took some bucks with them as they were willing to pay in order for Naaman to get healed. They went to a lot of trouble, time, and expense to make this happen.
When they arrived at Elisha’s place, they were shocked that, that disrespectful preacher did not even come out to acknowledge Naaman’s importance. He sent his servant out! The audacity of that man.
Elisha’s servant told Naaman if he wanted to be healed, he had to go dip in the polluted Jordan River seven times.
Naaman was steaming mad about this. He jumped back in his limo, took off, left rubber on the road and a cloud of dust. He was fried because he had been disrespected—and the disgusting Jordan River was no place for a man of his stature to be dipping.
After a few moments, the steam began to recede. One of his entourage said, “Boss, we spent a lot of time and money to come down here. He said to go dip in the river. Maybe you should try it.”
Finally, Naaman yielded. He dipped in the River Jordan as instructed by Elisha’s lowly servant. The result? He got healed!
Naaman wanted Elisha to come out and pay him some respect and lay hands on him personally because he was an important man, but that didn’t happen. As a result, Naaman’s pride almost stopped him from following Elisha’s direction through his servant and, ultimately, from receiving the provision of God in his life.
Lay Aside Preconceived Ideas
How many times have we done this? We have an idea of how God should heal us and if it doesn’t work, we get upset. God doesn’t have a specific method for healing people. He can heal you at home in your backyard. He can heal you in church. He can heal you anywhere. The problem is that pride and preconceived notions of how God should heal us keep us from receiving what He wants to supply.
I’ve had people come up to me after a service where many had been healed by God and say, “I want you to lay hands on me. I need healing.”
I hate to say it, but they missed it. The flow of healing took place during the service. To demand on your own time when the Spirit will move isn’t right. I can lay empty hands on an empty head, but it wastes both our time. The capacity to receive is there when the Lord is in it.
So the first two considerations we see regarding how we receive from God are worship and humility. Worship of the Lord is impossible without genuine humility. We must get beyond what other people think and keep pride and preconceived ideas out of the picture as we humble ourselves before God.
What is the third consideration to receiving from God? I’ll show you that in my next blog post.
(Three Keys to Receiving From God, part 1, was part of our latest Winner’s Way magazine. You can read it here.)