The Three-Finger Poke
I’m happy to share the three-finger poking I received from God. I did learn this last week, invariably with a platter of remorse. If you think this is a waste of time, you would probably be right, so you can skip or skim it.
So then, to the patient ones: it all happened in a week. As a leader of the organization, knowing how to move forward with the unknowns of COVID 19 was difficult for me. What do I do with my team? Friends were advising me in many different directions, but God ended up giving me my answer through three different pokes from largely unrecognised characters of the Bible.
Naaman just came alive in my dream. I remember his story very well. [Here's a leper who is a Syriian Commander. He was told by his servant girl that there's a prophet in Israel named Elisha who could heal him. Naaman sets off to Israel. Well, at the doorstep of Elisha, the prophet sent word to Naaman to dip himself in Jordan seven times Naaman felt insulted and was angry. But then, a young attendant calmed him down. Eventually Naaman did as he was instructed and was healed. The story also has reference to Gehazi, the young man who served Elisha. Gehazi craved for Naaman's money, after taking it for himself and getting caught, he was then cursed to live as a leper.]
Naaman smiled; I asked him why and he said: “I did something right, which Elisha got it wrong”.
That amused me! “Are you insulting the great prophet?” I was a bit offended.
“Oh! No… oh No” said the venerable gentile.
I had this contempt for him.
But he continued: “Think with me. You see, there were many lepers in Israel in those days, but none of them was healed other than this Syrian commander.”
I knew that is what Jesus said. But I was interested to hear his interpretation of divine benevolence.
“I know that God wanted me to be healed. But you know God needs the right people to work out his plans.”
I took it that he’d be referring to Elisha, but he shocked me with the next statement. Then he whispered aloud into my ears, with a torturing Syrian smile:
“I had surrounded myself with the right people. They were not the perfect ones, but they were the right ones...”
I remembered Gehazi, on whom my sympathies always rested, was such a poor choice as Elisha’s successor.
“... I had that little girl who was my wife’s servant. If she wasn’t there I wouldn’t have known healing. Further later on in my journey, when my anger enslaved the better part of me, a brave young man stood by my side and brought sense to me.”
I remembered both of them and saw the truth in his statement. Did Elisha get it wrong… hmm...could be! Anyway, God removed Gehazi from Elisha, because it was better for Elisha to not have a Gehazi in his service. Then I remembered myself: God has the right people with me. They are not the perfect ones, but they are the right ones. They are not always good ones and not all good ones stay with you. But who you have with you now are the right ones, this I learned.
Baruch was scolding me too much after I preached about him at a Zoom Sunday Service at Dubai. Great! It was from Jeremiah 45 (you can read it: a 90-second read). Baruch is the assistant of Prophet Jeremiah. He was one scribe who scribbled down the pathos of the weeping prophet. That man had the talent to write down such a depressing set of prophecies, with rhythmic pop-ups of joy and hope. Check out his books: namely ‘Jeremiah’ and ‘Lamentations’.
So at a time, when anxiety caught hold of the young but ambitious scribe, God rebuked him and set his focus on one most important thing in Life: Life itself. God told him that among all of the upcoming destruction, He would give Baruch’s life as a loot! So God stuck a pair of blinkers to my eyes, to focus on things that are important, and reevaluate the most important things in life. Those ‘things’ in fact turned out to be people. Great things Baruch wanted to do and all things wonderful he wanted to achieve: man! a blinder this young fellow was. That’s when God taught him to value what he is and not what he does! The second poke was good! I learnt to value people for their life more than what they do!
Now, this is going to take your breath away. The most sincere partnership among two rich guys, for the noblest cause, ended in the world’s most significant loss and its greatest gain. I told you! Those two rich men were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, seen in John 19: 39-42. When all of the disciples and future leaders of the church missed the last rites to their Lord, two influential guys, with sufficient means stepped in to do what seemed utterly pointless and ignominious- to bring down the dead body of a “criminal” and give him a rich burial! “Such a waste of money!” the Judas-like pragmatists would have exclaimed. I love the poor and respect them. Take it from a person who must have earned the right to craft an outrageous statement. I admire the rich who are close to the kingdom of God! But what I admire more is what these two guys did together. I learned if I would value achievements more than life, I would admire what we can do together than what we can do individually. That’s a piece of sane advice: what do you say?