Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Breath Away


Friday, October 17, 2014
The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories.  But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.        2 Kings 5:1 (NLT)

896 B.C.

The commander of the world's most powerful and feared armed forces awoke one morning and began his regular routine of preparing for the day.  As he splashed some rose scented water over his face, his mind thought back to the recent ceremony where he had received his nation's highest honor.  What a glorious day that was, having his place assured in history, and the admiration of all those people. 
Putting on his uniform, he mused, "Who knows, maybe I could even get into politics.  After all, I've gone as far as a soldier can go.  There may be more to conquer than just some other country's armies.  Life is great," he thought – "life is exciting...hey, what's this?" he wondered aloud, as his eyes noticed a small, irregularly shaped circle of white near his elbow. 
For Naaman life was too good to entertain any thoughts of his world falling apart.  He had seen circles like that before; but his mind wouldn't allow that it could happen to him.  He could not picture himself with ugly, open sores all over his body.  He couldn't imagine what it would be like to lose those strong fingers that held his sword.  But worst of all was the unimaginable scene that flashed through his mind – of people turning away from him in disgust and loathing. 
Naaman was a handsome man, strong and virile.  The obscene thought of people treating him like he was dirty, something to be avoided...it was more than he could stand.  That could not – it would not happen to the Captain of the host of Syria's armies. 
He wouldn't let it!
For the next several weeks the spot was observed every morning.  As much as Naaman tried to tell himself that the spot wasn't growing, when that other spot on his neck appeared he began to panic.  Daily (it seemed) other spots, and small brownish red blisters formed.   Naaman lost his usual hearty appetite.  It was an easy thing to give up food, as nothing seemed to stay down for long anyway.   Long sleepless nights became his constant companion.  Lethargy was creeping into the daily routine.  Naaman no longer looked forward to planning strategic military campaigns.  He constantly felt feverish.  
There was no denying it – Naaman had leprosy.  His life was about to change…forever!

Fast-forward 2,900 years

R. B. Ward was my dear friend.  He was the chief of detectives for the Gainesville, Florida Police Department, and a member of the church I served.  He was a strong follower of Christ, and served on our leadership board.  When he joined the church I asked him, should I call you, “Captain Ward” or “R.B.”?  He said “Just Richard”.  I said, “OK, Richard, the Justified shall be Just Richard!  It became a running joke with us.  We corresponded for years after I left that church, and he always signed off, Just Richard.
In the fall of 1990 Gainesville and the University of Florida had a serial killer unleash his fury on 5 college students.  It took months and months of intensive investigation and following this trail of evil, but Danny Rolling was finally caught. 
In the middle of that all-consuming investigation my friend found out he was suffering from what the doctor described as terminal cancer of the lungs.  Aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments were successful, and R.B. was in remission. 
After fighting the killer loose on the streets, and the killer loose inside of him, R.B. was interviewed on a national television show.  My friend, Just Richard told the viewers this simple sentence: 
Walk with the Lord daily; death is only a breath away.

For You, Today


If that one single breath that separates you from meeting your Creator was going to be drawn today…what would be different about how you live this day?

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