As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, as did Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, and other prophets of the scriptures.
It is no small thing to have a prophet of God on the earth today! History has shown that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in following prophetic counsel. History has also shown that the instructions may be simple, but the actual following is never so easy.
The experience of Naaman is worth review.
In ancient times, Naaman was the chief commander of the Syrian army. It says that he was ”honorable”, and a “mighty” warrior. He was the King’s right-hand man, and this guy had it all; Wealth, Intelligence, Education, Physical Fitness, Influence, and Power!
None of that mattered the day he contracted leprosy.
Naaman’s future seemed hopeless, until he heard about an Israelite prophet named Elisha with healing power. Naaman took immediate action. He used his wealth, influence and connections to travel across enemy borders in search of this prophet, and he travelled in style. Now, Naaman had some good things going for him. He believed, or at least had a very strong hope, that Elisha was a prophet and could heal him. However, Naaman lacked humility, and he was about to get a big dose.
Imagine a lavish Syrian caravan pulling up outside Elisha’s humble dwelling. A servant boy greets them, hands Naaman a note, and promptly closes the door. The instructions read simply to “go and wash in [the] Jordan [river] seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kgs. 5:10).
OK. To say that Naaman was angry would be an understatement! The scriptures use the words “wroth” and “rage“. His reaction to the prophetic council he received included:
1. Being insulted. I travel all of this way and go to all of this expense and trouble to see the prophet and then all I get is a lousy note that tells me to go take a bath?
2. Wanting a reason. Why do I have to go into the river? Why do I have to wash 7 times? Why not 6 or 8? Why doesn’t Elijah just come see me and perform an “instant healing” ?
3. Criticism. If I have to do this washing thing, then why did he pick the Jordan river of all places? It’s dirty and it’s where all the poor people hang out, and it will take effort getting over there. Look, there are two perfectly lovely rivers right here, and they are much cleaner and prettier to look at! What is the prophet even thinking? He’s obviously either senile or his age makes him out of touch with reality.
Bottom line, Naaman’s pride and stubbornness were keeping him from receiving the Lord’s blessing through His prophet. It doesn’t specify how long Naaman’s ‘wrath and rage’ tantrum lasted. However, eventually he calmed down enough to listen, and his servants wisely pointed out:
”If the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, would not you have done it? how much rather then, when he saith [a simple thing] to thee, Wash, and be clean?”
Naaman conceeded, and went and “dipped himself seven times in Jordan”. Then, just as the prophet had promised, he was healed immediately. In fact, Naaman’s skin became ” like that of a little child” (2 Kgs. 5:14). In other words, he became an even better man than he was before! He received skin that was soft, smooth, supple, with no wrinkles or varicose veins, no battle scars or blemishes . . . he was both physically and spiritually, reborn.
It must have been humbling for Naaman to realize how close he came to missing out on that! How many of us might be missing out on promised blessings because we don’t listen, or won’t choose to follow the relatively simple things our prophet tells us to do today?
A living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson gave these simple instructions at the Oct. 2009 General Conference:
1. Don’t Get Angry
“To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible. . . I ask, Is it possible to feel the Spirit of our Heavenly Father when we are angry? I know of no instance where such would be the case.”
2. Help Someone In Need
“Just over a year ago I was interviewed by the Church News prior to my birthday. At the conclusion of the interview, the reporter asked what I would consider the ideal gift that members worldwide could give to me. I replied, ‘Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for him or her.’
3. Read and Study The Conference Talks
“We remind you that the messages we have heard during this conference will be printed in the November issues of the Ensign and Liahona magazines. As you read and study them, you will be additionally taught and inspired.”
4. Do What Is Right
“I am reminded of the words of the Lord found in the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. Said He: ‘Ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come’ (Ether 2:25). My brothers and sisters, He has prepared us. If we heed His words and if we live by the commandments, we will survive this time of permissiveness and wickedness which can be compared with the waves and the winds and the floods which can destroy. He is ever mindful of us. He loves us and will bless us as we do what is right.”
Is it too simple to try? . . . Our Choice.
Is it worth it? . . . I’m keeping Naaman in mind.