I recently started working at the church again on a regular basis. Normally, this doesn't mean Wednesday nights, but I filled in last night (well, 2 nights ago now; it's Friday as I write this) since the regular sound guy was on vacation. Pastor Dane was also on vacation. Not so much of a coincidence; the regular sound guy is his son. Anyway, the pastor of the local Biker Church, which "grew up" on our campus, the church not the pastor, spoke. He talked about the passage in Luke 5 where the man is waiting around by the pool for somebody to toss him in when the angel stirs it so's he can get healed.
Pastor Denver said he believes this guy was not only physically paralyzed, but mentally as well. After all, he'd been lying there every day for 38 years, making his comfy little living, letting things go on as they were. He'd gotten used to things as they were. He'd quit trying. He'd become complacent and his complacency had paralyzed him mentally just as much as his disease or whatever had paralyzed him physically. As Pastor Denver discussed this paralytic's situation, he drew a parallel to our own lives. He pointed out that we often become paralyzed in our bad situation, because we've gotten used to it. We look around and say, "You know, it's really not that bad after all" when it really IS that bad after all.
Jesus knew this paralytic was in this condition. He knows we are in this condition. He didn't say to the guy, "Hey, dude, maybe you should get a little counseling for your situation. You know, discover what it is about your past that has you stuck here." Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against getting therapy and dealing with your past, sometimes together. I've actually done it myself. It can be a vital part of being healed. Sadly, though, it is all too often an excuse to just stay where you are, now with "a reason". Anyway, Jesus also didn't say, "Let's make sure you're right on the edge of the pool tomorrow morning. We'll get... hey, you guys over there, can you make sure this guy's right on the edge there tomorrow? Thanks! Oh, and let's go find the friends and family that have abandoned you and get them..."
NO! Jesus said this: "Get up, pick up your mat, and walk." Pastor Denver's point was that He's telling this to US, too. Now, I was very convicted by that, but I immediately started making excuses (the biggest one being "How the heck do I roll up my metaphorical mat?"). And it made me think.
In the Bible, people did the outlandish things Jesus told them to do in order to be healed. Blind people let Him put spit-mud on their eyes and touch their tongues. People who knew - didn't just think, but KNEW - they could NOT walk climbed up off their mats on the ground and walked around. Where did they get the courage to do that? Why didn't they just say, "Hey, you moron, I can't walk here! If I could 'Get up and walk', do you think I'd be lying here in the dirt?" (In no way do I mean to imply Jesus is a moron. It's poetic license. Leave me alone.) Because that's the kind of thing I know I keep saying. More politely, of course. But the gist of it is there just the same.
"Get up? What do you mean get up? I've been lying here for years! I can't 'get up'! My legs DON'T WORK! And even if I could, I don't even know how to walk any more! I'd have to re-learn all that! How embarrassing would that be, just staggering all over the place? I'd probably fall down and break something and you'd just have to heal me all over again! Besides, where would I go?"
Jesus is telling me, and telling you, to GET UP. Just - get up! Don't whine, don't motorboat ("But-but-but-but-but"), don't come up with 83,462,347 reasons why not. GET UP! Then, when you trip over the next thing in your life, do it again!
"You make it sound so easy!" If it were easy, we wouldn't need God's Holy Spirit to show us what to do and how to do it, would we? In some ways, the guys Jesus and the disciples healed in the Bible had it easy. When He said "Pick up your mat and walk", it wasn't a metaphor! I'm working on getting up. Wanna join me?