A church down the street has a sign up that says "Sorrow looks back; worry looks around; faith looks up." I've seen it several times now and every time I drive by I have a little "aha" experience. I've been thinking about making a blog post for the past several days on being crippled. This quote seems to affirm that intention for me.
Sorrow and grief are just two of the things that cripple us. Fear, self-doubt, self-loathing, shame, greed, lust, jealously, drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety are crippling, and, well . . . you can add your personal condition or situation to the list as applicable. I've got quite a few of my own.
"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the [paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.] One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked" (John 5:1-8).
How like the man are you? Am I? We may not like being crippled, but to "pick up our mats and walk" requires stepping out in faith. It requires us to leave behind the crippling condition - which has, in reality, been a crutch hindering us from achieving the fullness of life Christ offers.
To trust Jesus to heal us also requires change - an end to worrying, a stop to the dependence upon substances, people, things, thoughts that cannot possibly save us. Even if we don't like where we are, what burdens we bear, how we are crippled, to give it all up and trust only Jesus . . . well . . . it's not easy. It's unthinkable almost. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak after all.
This man's family and friends plopped him down near the pool - near the one thing that (the people of the time believed) could have allowed him to walk - to heal him, to make him whole. He relied upon them and yet they never hung around to carry him into the pool. The man himself waited until the pool was stirred up before he headed toward the water. He didn't plan ahead, or, it seems, ever try to help himself.
Only Jesus offered him a better way. Only Jesus. Because of Jesus we don't need to look back in sorrow. Because of Jesus we don't need to look around in worry. Because of Jesus we can look up. Only Jesus can heal us. It's so easy! Ahhhh, but so difficult, because while He offers us healing, we must decide to accept it. To accept Jesus' offer we must accept responsibility for our lives.
Jesus is our all and everything. He heals the lame, forgives the sinner, upholds the downtrodden and cures us of the crippling condition that keeps us from living fully and completely, joyfully and intentionally. Jesus asked the crippled man - and asks us, "Do you want to get well?"
We can answer, "yes" or refuse. The choice is yours. And mine.
What will your answer be?
Blessings on your journey,