I get in a pondering mood when we hit “new beginnings” usually it’s around the beginning of each school year, my birthday and the new year.
As I sat quietly in front of my fireplace dreaming, planning and thinking about this new year I suddenly found myself drawn to this question. This very simple but profound question stood out to me as I read my Bible–Do you want to get well?
As a mom, I have asked this question lots of times when I find myself forcing medicine down a sickly child’s throat. The same child who only seconds ago was vomiting and complaining of their ailments but is now refusing the medicine I offer.
Do you want to get well?
Many a time I have found myself asking this question as I counsel young women who’ve been rescued from sex trafficking and want to return back to the cruelty and monstrosity they were just saved from.
Do you want to get well?
I have asked myself this question as my wandering mind is filled with worry in the middle of the night. Allowing distorted truth to dictate my actions instead of God’s word.
Usually finding myself agitated with the resistance, annoyed at the lack of “obedience”.
But in this passage you don’t see an agitated Jesus. He simply extends an invitation, “Do you want to get well?”
Do you want to see change?
This question spills forth out of the mouth of Jesus in John 5:6 as he crosses paths with an invalid man who had been sitting around the pool of Bethseda for 38 years waiting for the angel to stir the water. That’s a long time to be waiting!
I love how Jesus uses questions to get to the heart of our situation. Basically he’s asking–Do you want to see change?
I’m kind of shocked at this invalid’s response. He has been sitting at the pool for 38 years and his reply is not a resounding, “YES!” Instead he offers an explanation or excuses of why he’s still not well. But he quickly goes from excuses to something radical. Let’s take a look and see.
Don’t miss it! That simple question is an invitation for me and for you–Do you want to get well?
With an invitation, we are always left with a choice to make.
Many times we find ourselves making excuses just like this invalid when offered the invitation to get well. Sometimes our explanations are completely valid. I get it! We don’t have enough support, we are too exhausted, our kids are too wild, our husband is always absent, or there’s not enough time or money.
But more often than not we are discouraged when the change we want to see doesn’t happen exactly as we hoped so we draw back to what’s safe laying by the pool at Bethesda as an invalid.
Don’t lose hope! Hope is always found in Him.
You see when we cross paths with Jesus we will never be the same! He loves us so much that he’s not content leaving us the same way He found us.
Our heavenly Father’s compassion amazes me. He loves us enough to stop what he’s doing and walk over and ask, “Do you want to be well?”
He cares about us not only to inquire about us but to heal us.
It’s our choice to accept the invitation and to let Him in, into those dark secret places, into the pain, into our big plans, into our desires and even into the loss.
The road to change. The journey towards freedom starts with a choice. A simple choice. A radical choice that leads to radical obedience.
The invalid leaves the excuse making. He musters up enough faith and with radical obedience and he accepts the invitation. As a result he discovered freedom that day!
Jesus said to him “Stand up, take up your mat and walk.”
There is freedom where there was once imprisonment.
The invalid’s life is changed forever because of of God’s grace and his radical obedience. His childlike faith, takes this man Jesus at his word and he moves towards action.
Let me make this clear, the invalid is healed immediately that’s God’s grace. But when he gets up and walks he demonstrates his radical obedience.
Later in verse 14 we see he encounters Jesus again and he has another choice to make. Daily and maybe hourly choosing to honor God. Jesus says, “Sin no more that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The change you hoped for is not what you expected
This invalid had been sitting by the pool for 38 years hoping someone would help him in when the angel stirred the water so he could be healed. That was his plan for healing for 38 years! As you can see it was not that great of a plan if he was on his 38th year and still waiting to be healed.
So Jesus comes along with a different plan for healing. It didn’t involve an angel, it didn’t involve the pool he’d been sitting by for 38 years. Jesus’ plan involved grace and radical obedience!
Do you see what just happened in verse 8?
Jesus changed the invalid’s life but not in the way he had envisioned. Jesus didn’t walk him over to the pool nor did he send an angel. Nor does he take him out of Bethesda. He changes the invalid right where he’s at.
Friend your circumstances may not change and you may still find yourself at Bethesda but ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the invitation of healing that he is offering right where you are.
Ask Him for the courage to take that one small step towards healing and baby step your way towards radical obedience by daily walking away from the temptation!
Oh how new beginnings get me excited but the thought of the work involved, does not. I think about the change I want to see in my life this year and I know that it will involve lots of baby steps of radical obedience over and over again, right where I am at. It will involve me taking God at His word and believing that I can release my hopes, emotions, failures, desires at His feet. It will require for me to learn to cease striving and know that He is God my father who loves me just as I am. It will require for me to daily walk away from temptation.
Oh Lord, help my heart that is prone to wander. Open the eyes of my heart so I may see your loving invitation of freedom no matter how different it looks from my plan.
Help me respond with a resounding yes to your invitation of freedom and hope.
Teach me to have radical obedience. Open my eyes so I may see your invitation of healing even when it looks different from what I envisioned.
Give me the faith I need to stand up and walk in freedom.
That’s what “new beginnings” are about–finding freedom in You. Trusting that the change you will bring about is what is best even if they look very different from my plans.
Teach me to release my plan and to receive your healing, your grace, and your freedom.
In the midst of life’s circumstances let me muster enough faith and hope just like this invalid to take a small step of radical obedience. Help me put away my unbelief so I can stand up, take up my mat and walk.
In your name I pray!