Throughout Scripture and today we see stories of God bringing life and healing into the dark corners of our world and our lives. It happened to me.
In late July I published Surprised by Sin, where I shared how God called on me transform my broken relationship with my youngest child.
I had tried to change things on my own, but had failed. I had prayed about it, but my prayers came before repentance; I had not invited the Lord to chasten and refine my heart. After so much time and so many failed attempts I told myself “it was what it was.”
One man had been an invalid there for 38 years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”
The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off….
A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.”
The sick man’s malaise thrived in his stagnant refusal to believe he could be other than what he had always been. He had many excuses, few involving personal responsibility.
Jesus’ question exposed his denial, “Do you want to get well?”
Maybe when he first arrived at the pool he really did have a hunger for change and healing, but failure opened the door to discouragement and discouragement to complacency.
Then that familiar voice inside kept him there by reminding him that he was “less than the others” (otherwise why else would he continue to be passed over?), “Things will never change.” “It’s not your fault.” “It is what it is.”
As he watched the others emerge healed he tried to imagine what lay ahead for them. Walking was only the first step. There would be so much more to do. Learning. Working. Striving. And failing 1,000 more times as he worked to close the gaps from 38 years of paralysis. It all sounded so exhausting; perhaps he was better off to just stay put.
Take up your bedroll.
The Greek word for “take up” is airo, literally “to take upon one’s self and carry what has been raised up, to bear.” Jesus is speaking about more than the bedroll; He is commanding him to take responsibility for himself, his circumstance, his joy and the life to which he was called.
See, You are Well
When Jesus brings healing it is complete and abundant. Shortly after that day in July my heart for my daughter, and our relationship, was completely renewed. I see her in a new light, and that light is beginning to shine all around as she sees herself reflected in new and positive ways.
Her attitude about her capabilities and responsibilities is improving, and with it her grades. Our household is more cohesive. And I feel better too, free of the shame and discouragement of what I had considered to be an intractable situation. As Jesus said,
With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.
With his final words to the now-upright man Jesus offers a valuable warning to him and to us:
Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.
You see, God accepts and loves us in our brokenness, but He is faithful to lead us to the right path, the way to life. We then have a choice to make: get on the right path or continue to go our own way.
At a distance the choice seems obvious: Why in the world would a sick man opt to sit on the sidelines rather than leap into a full and abundant life? Why did I refuse to surrender my relational brokenness to God for 14 years?
- What sin in your life have you learned to live with?
- Will you seek His word, invite His Spirit’s conviction and listen to truth spoken by fellow followers to uncover where God is calling you to change directions?
And lastly, but most importantly:
Do you want to get well?