I know I’ve taken a long break from posting on my blog but I’ve had quite a few weeks. I’ll do justice to these “few weeks” on another post, but today, I want to share something that deeply stirred my spirit from John chapter 5 (yep, I’m still snailing my way through the book of John).
I started studying the book of John earlier last year with one goal: to see Jesus the way John did – intimately. Needless to say, it’s been such a rewarding journey. I’m still on chapter 5 and I wanted to share something from this passage that completely floored me.
Allow me to paraphrase:
When Jesus was back in Jerusalem, He visited the Sheep Gate which was known for a famous pool called Bethesda that was distinguished by these five columns. Hundreds of sick people — blind, crippled, paralyzed — gathered around this pool because it was believed that, every once in a while, an angel stirred the waters and as soon as this divine occurrence happened, the first person to immerse themselves in the pool would be completely healed. The Bible isn’t clear on how often this happened but I imagine that this wasn’t a frequent incident. Also, clearly, people who thronged by the pool, deeply pined and waited for that angelic stirring to happen.
Now, John tells us that there was one particular such pining man who had been an invalid and was waiting by the pool for thirty-eight long years. I can’t imagine what that existence must be like — spending his whole life almost waiting for this miracle and just always missing it when it happened because being an invalid meant he couldn’t immerse himself in the pool on his own. He needed someone to carry him to the pool. My heart goes out to this man.
So did Jesus’. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man explained his situation to Jesus and said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”
Jesus instantly sympathized with him and said, “Get up, take your bed, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot! He picked up his bed and walked. Without the angel. Without the stirring. Without the miracle that he was waiting for.
Now after narrating this story, John goes on to tell us more of what happened after this man was healed but I was arrested by the Holy Spirit at this point in the story for a while.
Here are a few things that He put on my heart:
- Stop thinking you know what your miracle looks like.
I thought about this man’s situation and the situation of so many of us who are not unfamiliar with waiting and pining for a miracle. There are expectations we have of our miracle. We know what it should look like. We have seen how it happens with others. We have witnessed others experience it. We are familiar with the usual ways in which God works. So, we wait expectantly for things to happen a certain way. Our minds have painted a beautiful picture of what our miracle looks like. And we are disappointed, over and over again. I felt the Holy Spirit challenge me to stop putting God in a box. The Miracle Worker doesn’t have a template that uses for every need. He doesn’t rely on gimmicks and He’s full of surprises. His timing is unpredictable and His methods are unusual.
- Don’t wait for a “stirring” when the Savior is with you.
I feel like I identify with this man who was waiting for the stirring at so many levels. I want a stirring. I want something dynamic to happen. I am often pining for the experience of something so tangibly supernatural that it is obvious to all around. I often find myself yearning for a Sunday message that will stir the waters for me or a prophetic word that will just come at the right time. I feel like the Holy Spirit reminded me oddly through this passage that the stirring is great but the Savior is more important. He is in me and with me every day. Imagine that — that the God of heaven and earth, the God who said, “Let there be light” and the same God who made this invalid walk is in me and in you. But we are pining for an experience. Something temporal. Something tangible. Something fleeting that may or may not happen. I am challenged to choose to spend so much more time with Jesus this year. More time sitting at His feet, more time listening to His still voice, more time pursuing His heart.
- Obedience is key to your miracle.
Now Jesus came along and said something preposterous to this invalid. He said, “Get up, take your bed, start walking.” I mean, the audacity! Imagine the situation. This man wasn’t alone by this pool, there were hundreds of others waiting like him. They all were familiar with the supernatural. They knew what a miracle looked like. It involved an angel, a stirring, immediate commotion, jumping, joy, disappointment, etc. What this man wasn’t expecting was a young unfamiliar carpenter to come along and tell him something as simple as “Get up, take your bed, start walking”. But when he heard those words, he did exactly that. He got up, picked his bed and walked.
I wondered a lot about this. What made him think this would work? What made him think, “I must listen to this unusual command”? If I were him, I’d be disappointed that Jesus couldn’t see that all I obviously wanted was someone to pick me up when the “stirring” happened. No, this man just obeyed. No questions. No wondering. No challenging the audacity of the command. He just did it. This was the deepest of my convictions from this passage. I don’t think I obey God like this. Immediately, no questions asked. My first impulse to anything God says is to question it, try to reason with it, try to interpret it, try to do something else that looks similar but is easier — anything but downright, immediate obedience.
Wow. What a way to be challenged for the New Year!
Lord, my prayer for this year is that:
- I don’t put you in a box and script my miracle. I will not let my finite mind limit the infinite God. I won’t let my restricted expectations of what you can do, define my understanding of you. I’m entering 2021 unexpectant but so ready!
- I don’t want just the “stirring”. I want You. I want to know You. I want Your Presence in my life. I want to be friends with the Miracle-worker more than I want the miracle.
- Also, I want to learn to obey you like this man did. I want to be able to do exactly what you’re instructing me to, no questions asked. I want to put my logic, my fundas, my thoughts and my ideas aside and just do what you say. And immediately.
Hey, if you’ve read so far, I encourage you today to make this prayer too. I pray that, this year, you will walk intimately with the God of angel armies instead of waiting for an angel to stir the waters for you. I pray that you will know God like John did, as a very close friend, not as a distant prayer-answering machine. I pray you will experience your miracle in no common way — that it will be special, unique and quite a spectacle. I pray that in 2021 your wait will be over and that you’ll move away from familiar territories you’ve hung around for years.
Have a fantastic year, my friends. So much love.
NOTE: I plan to post musings from my personal journaling and study on the gospel according to John more regularly on this blog. Please enter your e-mail address below to subscribe and get notified each time I upload something.