Let’s take a look at a story out of the Gospels, from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John. The story is about a sick man lying around a pool of water known as Bethsaida, located in the city of Jerusalem.
The legend of this pool is that every so often an angel will come down and stir the waters. At that moment, the first person to dive into the pond will be healed of whatever it is that ails them.
Imagine a Black Friday mob of sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed men and women trying to get into this Bed, Bath, & Beyond of wellness.
So, here is our guy. The scripture says that he is sick. The Greek word for his diagnosis, astheneia, literally translates as “want of strength, weakness, frailty.” Whatever it is that ails him, he’s been sitting on the edge of this pool for 38 years. Then Jesus shows up.
Once again, Jesus gets right to the point and asks this man a direct question, “Do you want to get well?”
Jesus sees this man, apparently a veteran of the pool scene, yet still not healed. So he asks him a legitimate question. “Hey man. I don’t mean to be rude, but do you even want to be healthy?”
The lame man, no doubt a bit defensively, responds, “No one puts me into the pool once it’s stirred. I always miss my window of opportunity. It’s not my fault.”
Can you hear the victim mindset in that non-answer to Jesus’s question? The sick man is asked, “Do you want to get well,” and he answers, “no one will pick me up and put me in the water.”
Then Jesus does the most Jesus thing ever. Full of grace and compassion, yet having no time for nonsense, he says to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
That’s right, Jesus tells this man to get off his ass and start living the life that he was created for.
This man, broken and beaten for decades, is asked by Jesus if he wants to be whole. He responds with an excuse for why he isn’t whole. Jesus then calls his bluff and tells him to get moving.
Jesus knew that if this guy really wanted to be well, if he was genuinely sick and tired of being sick and tired, then he would get up. If he didn’t want it—not at a deep, core level—then he would continue to sit there and make excuses.
So, how about you?
First of all, what is your sickness? What is the problem/roadblock that is hindering you from the freedom and joy of the abundant life of God’s will? What is keeping you from getting up and walking?
For some, there may not be an easily definable problem. Perhaps it’s just a general feeling of disconnection. Like looking into a broken mirror, you feel fractured, as if you are not whole.
However, some of you know exactly what is holding you back.
It is that one thing—that action, behavior, habit—that just keeps gnawing at you. It is that thorn in your side that won’t seem to go away.
If you were to be the first to jump into the disturbed waters of Bethsaida, what would you hope would be healed within you?
Perhaps it is your penchant for a bit too much drinking after work. Or maybe it is the pornography or promiscuity that you’re continually trying to hide or explain away. Possibly you would want your anxiety and stress around work to be healed, or your unhealthy codependent relationship with other people and their opinion of you.
Perhaps you have a problem with food, either eating too much or not enough, and you just can’t seem to figure it out. Or maybe your short temper and tendency to rage are proving to be of growing concern to others and yourself.
Maybe you just read all of the above possible short-comings and immediately recognized them as problems within other people you know, yet your own shame & deep-seated fear of failure feeds a toxic narcissism that keeps you from recognizing any deficiency within yourself.
Whatever it is that is keeping you out of the waters of healing (and everyone has something…if not somethings), Jesus has a simple, yet penetrating question for you.
Do you want to get well?
If you do, then it’s time to get up and start moving with a purpose. God will give you all of the grace and healing you need to live your life well, but he won’t live it for you.
The walking is up to you.