Organisers and managers know the value of the K.I.S.S. technique – Keep It Simple, Stupid. But how suspicious we are of simple solutions.
A recent reading from the book of 2 Kings was the story of Naaman, the highly esteemed Grand Champion of the king’s army. He had a chronic skin disease, probably leprosy, and it sounds as if it drove the entire household nuts, because of his irritation.
The simple faith of his wife’s servant girl, a captive from Israel, set him on a path to seek a cure for this disease from the prophet in the land of Israel. In accordance with his exalted rank, he set off with a letter from his king to the king of Israel, a heap of money and (interestingly) ten changes of clothing – he was going to get a result from a very important person.
He handed his letter of referral from the king of Aram to the king of Israel, who at first was in a panic, thinking that this was all part of a plot to pick a quarrel. Elisha heard about this and Naaman eventually stood with his retinue outside the door of Elisha’s house – you can imagine his expectations. But how ripped off must he have felt when Elisha himself didn’t appear, but simply sent a messenger to tell him to take a bath in the Jordan? Seven washes, in fact.
This Elisha bloke had a nerve. Take a bath? In that river? He could have saved himself the bother and had a wash in one of his own – far superior – rivers. Naaman expected the prophet to simply do a kind of magical wave and cure him on the spot. (I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at this encounter!)
Again the servants are somewhat wiser than the master and ask a very pertinent question: ‘If the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you have done it?’
Indeed. What would we have done, I wonder?
But Naaman was persuaded and after dipping himself in the Jordan River seven times his skin was restored to a clear, youthful bloom. The leprosy was gone. This changed Naaman entirely and he declared to Elisha that he would now follow only the true God. (I always find it encouraging that Naaman asks for forgiveness in advance for the times when his job will require him to accompany his master to bow down and make sacrifices in the temple of Rimmon.)
Hhmmm … sound familiar? I don’t think people have changed much over thousands of years.
The simple solution is too simple. Nah, it can’t possibly work. Nowadays we are puzzled if a dentist tells us to drink fresh pineapple juice before surgery; or a doctor advises us to rest and keep warm, to cure a cold. That’s too simple; we’d prefer to see the specialist with the latest drugs or costly treatment, with lots of tests and medical technology.
Fortunately Naaman took Elisha’s advice and was healed, body and soul.
Jesus, too, had a few simple things to say. Funny how the message of the gospel often seems too simple …
Sheelagh Wegman, BA, IPEd Accredited Editor is a freelance editor and production editor for the Tasmanian Anglican magazine. She sings in the choir of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart and lives in bushland on the foothills of Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html