After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
On a Sabbath morning and I read these words following a mind dump/journaling session/crying out to the Lord in prayer time. Morning pages of long hand writing, with tears blurring the pages of every lament for God’s provision, the hearts of my sons, strained relationships, jobs, college planning, caring for my parents, all of it.
My confession today and really every day this week is that this low lying sad undertone in my heart is because I have been living in disappointment. Disappointment rather than gratitude when the reasons for gratitude are solid and tangible and the disappointment is in the fleeting ideals that were never real or may never come to pass.
The last few years have been wrought with uncertainty and my response at times has been full of faith but also marred with fear. The combination of faith and fear led me to try hard to find another way, another job, to change the circumstances on my own. Some of that was good and much has been unhealthy. I figured if I tried to knock, turn the handles and pick the locks, God would open the doors he chose to but I was at least doing my part in trying.
The man laying by the pool, who lived with his illness for 38 years tried hard to get himself into the stirring waters of the pool. The waters called to him daily and each ripple was a visible reminder of unmet expectations and the pain of trying hard to get somewhere to no avail. Then Jesus asks a simple question, “Do you want to be healed?”
The man’s response wasn’t about being healed, but how he was to get into the pool in order to get healed. His answer to the Savior of the world was focused on his situation, the obstacles and disappointment with everything and everyone and the way he thought it should all go.
It’s true, life is a journey, but like the man at Bethesda I often lose sight of the ultimate goal: to encounter Christ and let Him bring full on healing to my life. As it turns out, for all those years the man was trying to get in the water, he didn’t need the water at all.
All he needed was Jesus.
Jesus directed him to get up, take the bed and walk. Don’t look back, do things differently but under HIS direction, not the way he thought he should go. In the back of my mind as I consider this, I’m reminded:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.“
So, I’ve decided to quit. I’m quitting trying so hard.
I’m quitting trying to be the best mom to these boys because it easily becomes more about me rather than the path unfolding before each of them.
I’m quitting thinking through my vocation and calling and wondering how they will reconcile because they actually are and it is so easy to miss that and what’s more… I end up finding my identity in what I do rather than who I am.
I’m quitting thinking through the “what if’s” that may never come to pass because today has enough trouble of it’s own.
I’m quitting trying to impress, inspire and prove myself because I am fully loved and have already been fully welcomed by a God who has plans for my life that are good and meant to prosper me towards Himself.
At this point in life, if it’s not Jesus that directs me to get up and go, I’m going to stay put. Stay put in this day, with these people and hopefully my ears attentive to how it all unfolds. I don’t need to work so hard because Jesus plainly says, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
I’m pretty sure they are doing a better job than I ever could. Also, this post is more of a prayer of declaration and not saying I’m going to be awesome at any of this quite yet. It’s a journey, right?
Do you need to quit something as well?
Peace be with you.