Gehazi's Story
Based on Old Testament 2 Kings 5
(Written by Jaclyn Tepe)

"What a fool I am," moaned a man lying in a corner of the cave. "What a greedy, selfish fool!" He continued to mutter as he rolled in the dirt until he was facing the stone, and then he buried his face into what was left of his hands. Yes, I said what was left of his hands. You see, all of us here are plagued, are sick, are dying. But more significantly, we are alone. Although we are surrounded by others, we are isolated…set apart by our curse. We have been marked as outcasts, as sinners, as people unworthy to live or even to look upon. The horror first strikes when mothers cover their children's faces when you pass, or when you see grown men run across the street to avoid crossing your path. There is more pain in my soul than my body has ever been forced to bear. The people lying in the dirt around me were once mothers, fathers, children…but all that was stripped away once we learned we had "it". Families are forced to turn their backs on those of us they love as they send us away to suffer, to die, to be alone. No, the curse of leprosy is not in the actual physical ailment, though it is enough to make you vomit when you see your own rotting flesh hanging from your limp skeleton. No, the most unbearable part is the solitude, the denial of human interaction, the lack of touch. It is those bitter nights when you cry yourself to sleep and there is no one to hold you that you feel the most alone, for it is then that you know you have been abandoned. But none of us feels quite as cursed as the one whom you first met, the one muttering in the corner. His name is Gehazi, and although he has been here only a short while, we all know his story.

His story first begins by involving another man. The Lord had just granted the king of Aram a great victory through the aid of his commander, Naaman. Naaman was a valiant soldier and a man of outstanding accomplishments. At first glance, one would assume that here was a man that had it all. Wealth, position, fame, and even a family were all his, and yet he was not whole. He, too, had the curse, the mark of leprosy. Money could not buy him a cure, bravery did not earn a healing, and rank could not garner a miracle. But the Lord had been working in his life before leading him to victory on the battlefield.

During a raid sometime earlier, Naaman's men had captured a young Hebrew girl, who was now serving Naaman's wife. She had worked for the family for many years and had grown attached to those with whom she lived. Instead of wishing ill on those who had torn her from her own home, the girl suggested to her mistress that her husband Naaman should travel to Samaria to see the prophet Elisha. "All the people from my homeland know of the prophet," exclaimed the girl. "He has brought fortune to a widow, raised the dead, and cured the water of its pestilence. Surely he can heal your husband's disease." Eyes that had been filled with tears and despair now hinted at a renewed hope. Naaman's wife clasped the girl close to her as tears freely ran down her cheeks. "Bless you child," she whispered as she rocked back and forth while lovingly holding her. "To think that our family's healing was spoken from the lips of a captive child," mused the woman. "Just think."

That evening Naaman spoke with his wife and learned of what the girl had suggested. He trembled at even the thought of being cured. Not wasting any time, Naaman sought the king of Aram and immediately asked for permission to seek out this prophet from Samaria. The king consented, and even wrote a letter to the king of Israel asking that he heal his commander. Practically running, Naaman left the king's presence and began his preparations for departure. Among the items packed for the journey, were 800 pounds of gold and silver and ten sets of luxurious clothing. All that was left to do was to see the king of Israel.

Upon his arrival, Naaman handed to the king the letter that read as follows: "With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy." After reading the words, the king leapt from his throne and nearly shouted in anguish as he tore his robes. "Do you think that I am God? Who am I to heal you? Your king seeks only to cause a quarrel between us!" Naaman could only stare on in disbelief. He had been sent to the king of Israel in order to be healed, and now he was being told that that goal was impossible. What was he to do? Naaman left the presence of the king in complete bewilderment and sorrow and was attending to his horses at the stables when a servant ran up to him. The servant stood unrecognized for several minutes for Naaman's eyes were focused deep inside of himself, and even once he saw the man, he cared little what he had to say. "Speak, for I am in a hurry to return to my house," Naaman said coldly as he continued to stare straight ahead as he fumbled blindly with his horse's restraints.

"The prophet Elisha has heard of your request and he wants to see you… now!" emphasized the man hoping to draw Naaman out of his reverie. "Why do you jest with me?" asked Naaman. "Your king already made it quite clear that I was to find no help in this land." "But…it is the prophet," argued the man. "It is through him that God works. You must go and see him if you have any hope of being cured."

"I will see him and I will see what he has to say. Then I will decide," replied Naaman as he summoned those accompanying him that they were ready to leave. Together, they all rode to the very door of Elisha's house. It was at this point that the man Gehazi entered the story. Elisha had sent him out to meet the troubled man, and to give him instructions on how to be cleansed. "Go, and bathe yourself seven times in the Jordan River, and then your flesh will be healed," directed Gehazi. Naaman merely snorted in rage. It was almost as if a bitter laugh had escaped his lips. Instead of replying to Gehazi, Naaman turned around and began to leave. "To think that I thought that man could heal me of my leprosy!" he stormed. "Instead of seeing me personally and just speaking away my illness, he hides and sends his servant to deal with me. Are there not cleaner and better rivers elsewhere? Why this accursed Jordan River?" fumed Naaman as he began to urge his horse into a brisk trot.

Before Naaman was able to outpace those traveling with him, several of his servants approached him. "Master, why this stubbornness? If you had been told that it would take some great feat to earn your healing, would you have not done all in your power to accomplish it? Why are you angry that you could gain your health by something as simple as washing in the Jordan River? Put away your pride and listen to the Prophet's advice." Naaman began to utter a response but halted upon second thought. What his men were saying was true. He had been angered at the Prophet's words not so much in their simplicity, but in the humility that they required. True, there were better and cleaner rivers, but what would more clearly show the power of this Hebrew God? Would it not be in his power to make that which appears dirty to be the very tool to provide cleansing?

Silently, Naaman turned his horse in the direction of the river and resolutely began his journey. It was with difficulty and not a small amount of skepticism that he approached his task. Would his dipping really cleanse his skin? What if nothing happened? Was this just some test to see if he was worthy of healing? Would the man of God laugh at him for doing what he was told, no matter how ridiculous it seemed? The answer was simple…once again, it was the simplicity that was the hard part to swallow. That was it! Nothing about this river was special. It was a complete act of faith. With his mind made up, Naaman practically dove into the Jordan. Seven times he immersed himself, seeing no difference after the first six times. Doubt once again began to creep back into his mind, a shadow of uncertainty that wavered back and forth for several seconds. Then, with eyes tightly closed, Naaman went under for the seventh time, and slowly came up. With a sigh, more out of resignation to accept whatever he saw than out of despair, he slowly opened his eyes.

He blinked several times to be sure that what he saw was not just some mere trick of the light on the water. No, it was not an illusion, but a miracle! He scrambled up the bank of the river and embraced those watching. Tears of joy flowed from moist eyes, and grins that threatened to separate faces marked all those who understood what had just transpired. Naaman jumped onto his horse and at once headed for the house of Elisha. When he saw the man of God, the same face-stretching smile appeared on his face as he thanked the one who had helped him in being healed. "I am now sure that there is only one true God, and that he is the God of Israel," exclaimed Naaman. "Please let me repay His servant with the gifts that I brought from my own household." But even though he insisted, Elisha refused. Finally, Elisha blessed Naaman telling him to go in peace. So Naaman and all his servants left.

Elisha returned inside his house, but Gehazi remained outside, his gaze steadily following the traveling party as they made their way down the road. While he watched them depart, Gehazi began to think about the wealth that he had seen, the riches that had been offered, the money that had been denied. "Why should we not accept some of this man's offerings?" thought Gehazi. "We did not even ask for them, he simply wanted to repay us for the favor that had been done for him. My master was too gentle on this man and should have accepted what he had brought." Gehazi looked up, and noticed that it had been quite some time since he saw the company disappear over the hill. Determined to gain something from Naaman, Gehazi began his pursuit.

Even when he was still a far way off, Naaman recognized the man as the servant to Elisha, and ordered his men to halt. Naaman dismounted and approached the winded man. "Is everything all right?" he asked Gehazi.

"Yes, all is fine. It is just that my master has just now received some visitors from the company of prophets, and he sent me to ask for two sets of clothing and a talent of silver." Naaman was eager to help and joyfully ordered that two sets of clothing be set aside, and not just one talent, but two talents (about 150 pounds) of silver be given to the man. He even assigned two of his own servants to carry the load ahead of Gehazi. Thanking the man, Gehazi turned and began the return journey home, but if one had looked, one would have seen a slight smirk eek itself out around the edges of his mouth.

Once he reached the hill, Gehazi took the items, hid them away, and sent the two servants on their journey. He then returned to the side of Elisha. "Where have you been?" asked his master. Beads of sweat threatened to break forth from his forehead as he carefully considered his answer. "Your servant has been nowhere," replied Gehazi, hoping that he could fool this man that knew so much, but before the prophet responded, Gehazi could read the answer in his eyes. A look of sadness mixed with anger stirred within those liquid windows to the soul. Something like a punch to the stomach settled on Gehazi as he realized that the air had nearly been knocked out of him. Or maybe his lack of air was due to the fact that he had been holding his breath in expectation. All of this information he was able to discern within a few seconds, and in a few seconds his life would forever be changed.

"Was my spirit not with you when you chased after the wealth of Naaman? Is this the time to accept gifts of riches?" asked Elisha in a manner which Gehazi had heard his master use only when dealing with others, never himself. Gehazi knew it would be in vain to argue, so he dumbly stood and waited for his master to finish speaking. The next words that Elisha spoke seemed to Gehazi ever afterwards to have been said in slow motion. It was as if time had lessened its pace so that the full impact of what was said could sink into his consciousness. "The leprosy that plagued Naaman will cling to you and your family, forever," said Elisha as he turned and left his servant standing in horrific silence, for in that instant, Gehazi's own flesh had turned as white as snow, cursed beyond recognition.

Who knows what made him chase after the things that his master had so adamantly turned away? But like I said, it didn't take long for all of us here to learn his story. We all listened in rapt silence while he told his tale, one racked with sobs and longings for moments undone. How when he first arrived he would sit and long for a chance to do it over again! I don't know if I can count the times that I heard him say that it was only one mistake, just one horrible mistake. All mistakes have their consequences, though, it's just some are more easily dealt with than others. Does he not think that we all too would like a second chance at life? Who now wouldn't do something different in their past at seeing what had befallen them in the future? Rare would be the man that would have lived his life in such a way, that no matter what came upon him, he could look back on his life with no regrets. That is what I think pains most of us here…it's the chances left untaken, the moments only half completed, the opportunities never to come again, and the regrets. The regret that one had not cherished that which he had while he had it, life.