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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Byers

Practicing Detachment

2 Kings 5 tells the story of Naaman, valiant commander of the Syrian army, who was stricken with leprosy. At the urging of a little Israelite servant girl, he presented himself to Elisha the prophet, with anticipation that he would be received with great honor and then be healed. His anticipation was well-founded on the goodness and willingness of God to heal, but his expectation was askew. Naaman thought Elisha would come out and greet him as his status demanded, wave his hand over him and proclaim healing. Instead, Elisha sent him to immerse in the Jordan River, not once but seven times. Although furious at first because he considered the Jordan an inferior river, he went and dipped and was wonderfully restored with skin as a child’s. He then declared that Israel’s God was the one true God.

Quite a story! From leprosy to the fury of entitlement, to wonder and worship. We, like Naaman, have every reason to raise our expectations to this good, good God. His blessing, healing, and favor await us, but don’t always come as we expect. Thus, we need to learn to detach from any demanded outcome.

We can do that by turning our demands into preferences, and dealing with any disappointment along the way. In Fire & Light Fr. Jacques Philippe wrote: “If we are too attached to our plans, our way of seeing things, our own wisdom, we do not leave a place for the Spirit. … We must have plans and undertake projects—but with total detachment. … This detachment opens us wide to the Spirit’s movements.” When by faith we detach from any demanded outcome, we are then free to wait or to work, knowing God’s love will never ever fail.

We position ourselves to receive, as did Naaman, but we must not demand that God come in our way, our time, according to our particularity. In our imagination, we may have built a story, but as we humble ourselves, God breaks into that story and creates and recreates in His way. So much better than ours!

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