The term “go the distance” means to carry on through a course of action to completion. In boxing it means to last for all the rounds, and in baseball it means to pitch an entire game. When Yahweh wants to work through us and gives us a task, we are to stay with what Yahweh wants no matter what it looks like around us. In the Scriptures, a man named Naaman “went the distance” to receive the healing from leprosy that Yahweh promised him. Yahweh’s plan was to heal Naaman. God put into motion what was needed for Naaman’s deliverance from leprosy. The record of Naaman is found in 2 Kings.
2 Kings 5:1-3 Now Naaman, captain of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man with his master, and highly respected, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was also a valiant warrior, but he was a leper. Now the Arameans had gone out in bands and had taken captive a little girl from the land of Israel; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman was a highly respected Aramean commander of the armies of Ben-Hadad II, the king of Aram-Damascus, in the time of Joram, who was the king of Israel. Naaman, through the king of Aram and the king of Israel was put in contact with the prophet Elisha. Naaman traveled a distance to see the prophet so that he could receive healing.
2 Kings 5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”
Naaman was given the word of Yahweh concerning what he needed to do to receive healing from his leprosy. A very simple task to do – just go wash in the Jordon River seven times. Naaman did not receive this information with much humility.
2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’
We can at times have an idea in mind what Yahweh should do in our lives. We come up with our plans, our ideas, and use our skills to get what we want. Then we ask Yahweh to “bless” what it is that we decide to do. Naaman goes on to complain about what it is that Yahweh told him to do through Elisha.
2 Kings 5:12 Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Then his servants came near and spoke to him and said, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he turned and went away in a rage.
At times we are faced with the same crisis of faith in our own lives. Yahweh’s wisdom is higher than ours. His ways are much different than what we can think of to do. Naaman thought he could do the same thing at home in cleaner water, which all sounded much more reasonable to him. Why would it have to be seven times? This Jordon washing was just too crazy sounding, and he thought the prophet was disrespectful on top of that! But, Naaman came to having faith that what the prophet said was true. He decided to obey what he was told.
2 Kings 5:15 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.
This is the part that is so amazing to us, and it is so simple. Naaman followed Yahweh’s direction to the letter and received what was promised. What a concept! How we respond to Yahweh is determined by our being certain that Yahweh’s plan is best, and how He wants us to work with Him is true and plain.
Naaman washed once, then twice. No change. Nothing happened until the seventh time. He had to stay at doing what he was told to do no matter what he saw happen. Do we become disillusioned too soon? Do we stop ourselves from “going the distance” because we see things are not happening like we think they should?
This Scripture record teaches us that when we are certain that Yahweh has given us a task, we stay with that task until we have completed it. It does not matter whether we see results right away or that it seems awkward, too difficult, or silly to us. We stick with it. Yahweh gives us the strength and courage to complete what He has given us to do. We do not want to faint or be dismayed. We should stay the course, finish the race, and go the distance!