Thinking about our grandson’s requirement to get up and walk after thoracic surgery, I could imagine his pain and the natural guardedness one has when asked to get out of bed and move. Bearing that pain, anticipating more pain, taking courage, receiving help from others, rising up, taking the first step… Like the pain of surgery, infirmities, tragedies, disappointments, griefs and sorrows, can trip us up, weigh us down, paralyze us. Weariness and discouragement, even despondency, may serve for a time as a blanket for one to rest in contemplation, gain strength to get up, heal, and renew in order to take life on again. Or it can trap us there.
I wonder if the paralytic who Jesus commanded to “take up your bed and walk,” was not only healed of obvious physical limitations, but also of hidden mental restrictions. What if doubts and despondency had swayed his course, given him pause, or stopped him altogether, allowing hopelessness to settle in during his thirty-eight years of waiting for healing, paralyzing his mind in his situation as well?
“Take up your bed and walk” is a command that demands my contemplation. Do I want to rise up beyond where I am? Do I choose to get up? What does that mean for me? Will I be swept away into the busyness of life, torn out as by a riptide? Tossed too and fro beyond my abilities to cope? Put on display or asked to do or be more than I am? Asked to give up things or familiar ways I insist on keeping to start life differently? It is a fearsome thing to be commanded to “get up and walk” if one must do so alone, or in their own power.
Facing our personal brokenness is oft’ denied in an effort to appear okay on the outside in order to gain or maintain acceptance, affirm we are valued, and are loved. From infancy there is an inherent lifelong need of interactive love in order to thrive. Do we ignore the truth of our reality saying, “I’m fine,” in our desperation to be liked?
Perhaps for some “get up and walk” is a matter of shucking off unintentional or purposeful insults and hurts caused by others, a suit of “mental Teflon”helping to soften or deflect those blows. For others, overcoming physical injuries and infirmities, griefs of losing loved ones, failures of expectations, loss of material comforts or sustenance is a process that takes time, tears, patient endurance and courage to walk into the future. Some, bound by lucrative, sinful lifestyles, are imprisoned by choice – or by force, remaining trapped, paralyzed by hope-less-ness. While others, whose spirits refuse to be kept bound by their brokenness, find a way to achieve vistas beyond one’s imagining. Recognizing our brokenness, and being willing to open the door to new life, is paramount to “getting up.” God gives us the choice.
Herein is the blessing of knowing Jesus as a Person, not just Jesus Christ as an object of conversation, but the Person who died to restore God’s relationship with mankind. Jesus who died for us, rose again…who got up from death itself and walked! Who desires an intimate interactive relationship with each of us personally. Yes, rising up and walking may be fearsome, taken with wobbly, tentative steps. Yet we are never alone. Christ’s Holy Spirit comes to abide in those who invite Him in. The Source of Life Himself bids us to get up and walk, through His strength…He has conquered every thing that keeps us down…and calls us to get up and follow Him. He is with us every step of the way.
LORD, help me to open my broken heart to You. You know me better than I know myself, and how to rise up. I’m stuck. I don’t know how. Please speak to me, take my hand, lift me, give me the strength to live beyond these paralyzing things. If others are needed to help me up, please send just the right person(s) and help me accept what I might need. I love You, LORD. I trust in You. Into Your hands I give you this…and me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 5:2-9 NKJV “ Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.