In John 5, Jesus encounters a man who has been paralyzed for 38 years. He lies by a pool each day along with the blind, the lame, and others who are paralyzed. When Jesus sees him, he inquires, "Do you want to be made well?" The man responds by saying he has no one to help him get into the pool and how when he tries to get there, others get there before him.
Jesus listens to his story (or his excuses) and tells him to stand up and walk. He's healed in an instant.
"Do you want to be made well?"
It sounds like such a simple question. But answering it requires that we admit we are in need of healing--that we are actually not well.
To say this season has taken its toll on me is an understatement. While COVID hasn't yet touched my body, it has nearly robbed my passion, my joy, my zest for life. I have yearned more than once for an opportunity to hide away and do nothing until the storm passes.
I realized today how much I have in common with the man in John 5. I know where healing can be found. I could see it and sometimes taste it. But I allowed myself to be paralyzed from receiving it. "Let me just lie here."
Two weeks ago, a doctor didn't ask me if I want to be made well. She got straight to the point, instead, with an admonition to get a handle on my stress.
In the last two weeks, I've gotten a massage. I've also returned to the gym where I hire someone to push my body harder than I would ever push it myself. I've been reminded in three sessions of how strong I am and how satisfying it is to be pushed outside my comfort zone. I had forgotten that I can, indeed, do hard things. I actually love hard things.
But today, I remembered something else that happened on the day after I saw the doctor. I had gone to a large country market with a friend where we loaded up on fresh vegetables and delighted in abundance. At the end of a row of tables, a group of men were distributing information on faith. I would have easily turned away. But my friend stopped when someone said, "Can I pray for you today?" The man introduced himself as Bob. I think he then asked if we knew Jesus at which point my friend said yes, "I'm in seminary, and she's a pastor." I wanted to run. But my friend was willing to engage, seeing sincerity in his offer. I reluctantly lowered my head as Bob prayed for us. He asked God to meet our every need, to bless us.
I have lots of people say, "I'm praying for you." But I cannot remember when someone simply wanted to pour blessing and healing into me and made me stop until I accepted their gift of prayer.
What if Bob's prayer is what has actually changed things for me--lifting my spirits, pushing aside my anxiety, giving me strength for whatever challenges are to come?
What if his faith is what God used to make me well again?
And what if God has been here all along, eager to heal me, while patiently waiting for me to ask for what I really need?
Do you want to be made well?