Do You Want to Get Well?
"Then Jesus said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.'" John 5:8 (NIV)
Do you ever feel paralyzed by fear, despair, isolation, or self-pity?
Do you have a physical or emotional pain so deep that nothing can soothe the hurt?
If your heart cried "yes, that's me!" as you read these questions, come meet the man on the mat found in John Chapter 5.
As the story opens, we find Jesus entering Jerusalem, walking towards a dirty, smelly pool of water. Every day the lame, weak, and sick gathered at this pool, believing an angel would come down, touch the water, and fill it with healing powers. Whoever entered the pool first received instant healing. As Jesus wandered through the crowd, His Father drew His eyes to an invalid lying on a mat.
Jesus looked deep into the man's soul and asked, "Do you want to get well?" (John 5:6b, NIV)
"'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.'" (John 5:7, NIV)
Did you hear the man's excuse? He remained on his mat because no one would help him.
Friends, I lived like that invalid for over a decade. In June 1986 at age 21, just days after my college graduation, I was raped by an armed, masked stranger hiding in my apartment.
I had enjoyed four incredible years at Baylor University where I pledged a sorority, dated and eventually became engaged to a wonderful man, was voted a Baylor Beauty and homecoming princess, graduated with honors, and had an amazing job waiting for me. After that day, those worldly blessings seemed meaningless. My attacker's vile and cruel act stole my dignity...my worth...my security...my life. He forever shattered my hopes and my dreams.
I lived paralyzed on a mat of fear and despair. For years I could never stay alone. I suffered from panic attacks that often landed me in the emergency room.
Then I encountered Christ in this story. The words He spoke to the crippled man leapt off the page and into my heart. They literally pierced my soul. I was the man on the mat. I enjoyed being the victim. I had become accustomed to my place of sorrow. Worse, I was comfortable there.
Read Jesus' next words to this man: "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." (John 5:8, NIV)
Through this story, I came to know the truth of Hebrews 4:12 (NIV): "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
I surrendered my heart and all that held it captive to God. He whispered in my ear, "Wendy, I have a most beautiful and abundant life for you, but you will never know that life until you have the courage to get up off your mat and walk." God's Word came alive. He spoke personally to me, and in that moment, I committed to take a first step off my mat.
Are you on a mat? Sweet friend, will you join me and take your first step off of your mat?
Dear Heavenly Father, I humbly come before You, my Creator and my Savior. I love You and thank You that You love me with an everlasting and unconditional love. I give myself to You now, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I deeply desire for you to come into my heart, heal my hurt, and take away my pain. Remove anything in my life that hinders my relationship with You and keeps me from living the abundant life You have for me. Fill me with the fullness of Your Spirit. Enable me to take the first step off my mat. Show me the great plans You have for me. I ask this in the powerful name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Are you stuck on a mat? What is keeping you there?
Commit today to take a first step off your mat. Identify your first step.
Spend some time in God's Word and in prayer. Listen for God's direction for your next steps.
Luke 18:27, "What is impossible with man is possible with God." (NIV)
Psalm 40:1-2, "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (NIV)