“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 your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed and he took up his bed and walked.” John 5:2-9a.
Sometimes there are things to pay attention to that may not be the stuff that is commonly talked about in Scripture. “All scripture is profitable…”
If I pay attention the same general circumstances that John writes about Jesus is presented to me.
Not the waiting by the pool, or the supernatural stirring of waters to heal, but the circumstance in which the sick, the invalid, the blind, the lame, etc. come passing in my path.
I would like to say I jump up to meet the challenge of courage and faith to pray publicly for these folks like (in my mind) a disciple should. So, the full of faith guy that I am, what do I do? Like the old song says: “Walk on by…”
The grocery store is my constant example. A person in a wheelchair: I stopped to pray for that person once; I passed by three dozen or more wheelchairs or more since that time. Broken arms/legs? Silence. Even sick folks in my house (my HOUSE)—aw, I prayed once; if I pray again is that lack of faith? All the while the Spirit is saying to my spirit: PRAY!! So I toss up a half-hearted prayer and call it a successful obedience. Oh yeah, like that prayer is holy and effectual…right. Jesus is in heaven: “I see your lips moving but nothing is coming out, at least nothing I can hear…”
I used to heap condemnation like burning coals all over my head about what I considered failures of opportunity. Then I started to understand the Doctrine of Sanctification: I am in a process of being changed by the Grace of God into becoming more mature, seasoned if you will. I cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this transformation. When I fail (and I will a lot of times) God doesn’t snap His fingers and say “Goodness, I thought he had it that time. Well, back to the drawing board and let’s start again…”
I diminish God’s Glory and Character when I think like that. He is omniscient: Of course He knows all of my life; there isn’t a place of my life that He isn’t aware of right now of all my days. Being Eternal and Omniscient has some advantages that creatures like me do not have.
So what do I do? Practice. Practice where? Practice in the places God has provided to learn in: the Home, instances of Fellowship, the Small Group, the gathering of the Church. As much as I really don’t like the phrase, these “safe spaces” are Instruments of Grace that God has given to mature in.
Lord Jesus, you have provided the Grace I need to address and accomplish what I have written above. Lord, I don’t want to be a half-hearted disciple—I need You to help keep my nose to the grindstone all my days. AMEN.