Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wilt thou?

"Wilt thou be healed?" (Jesus, in John 5:6) 

Billy Graham used to tell the funniest little story about the day he got married.  The wedding vows in those days were in Elizabethan English, so at the moment of truth, the minister would say, "Wilt thou take this woman to be thy wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as ye both shall live?"

Billy was talking about that moment, when he quipped: "The preacher said, 'Wilt thou?' .... and I wilted."  

Jesus asked a very important question to a man who had been sick for a very long time, who saw miracles happen all around him on a regular basis, but who never had anyone who cared about him enough to make sure he got HIS miracle.  He said, "Wilt thou be healed?"  

In other words, "Do you want to get better?"

Now, one would think the most natural response in the world would be the same as Emperor Kuzco's response when Pacha asks him if he's tired of being a llama. 


But this guy - the first thing out of his mouth is excuses.  

He doesn't even answer yes or no.  

But before judging him, let's think about this. Thirty-eight years he's lain by the side of this pool.  Every so often the water bubbles up - they said an angel stirred it, and whoever was the first one into the pool after that, would be healed.  And they were.  Every time.  So 38 years goes by and this guy is still by the side of the pool, begging for food in his spare time (and there'd be a LOT of spare time.) Lots of time to think about how alone he was, how nobody cared enough to roll him over there.  People came - ill - they left - better.  Not him.  People passed by there every day, saw him there.  Perhaps they asked him why he was still there after all this time.  Perhaps just their expression asked him that same question.  Could anyone imagine just how the victim mentality grew all over him like a fungus?  

So when Jesus asks him, "Do you want to be healed?" what do you suppose he hears in his heart?  "How come you're not healed? you must not want it badly enough."  

So his first words are, "Sir, I have nobody..."  Such a lonely existence being ill and being judged for it ... it's true!  Yet - the One asking this question wasn't judging.  He was asking if the man wanted to be healed.  And now that I listen a bit more closely  ...  I think I can hear his heart.  "Yeah-hessss!" 

Immediately Jesus tells him to pick up his pallet, the one on which he had been living for almost 40 years, and walk.  No fanfare, no stirring up the water and pushing people out of the way to get this guy in the pool first - no vindication in front of people who had passed him by and dismissed him.  Just pick up your mat and walk.  Don't worry about the muscles that are atrophied after years of disuse.  Just start using them - you've been given the ability by God to move around.  

At that point the man has a choice: to do as he is told, or to disbelieve and stay on his sleeping pad.  But no, he does - he gets up.  

And he can walk.  Unsteadily perhaps at first - but he does get up.  And - if you will use your imagination with me for a moment - from that day forward, his whole way of life progressively changes.  He has to strengthen his legs, learn balance, re-learn some table manners, perhaps.  He's also expected to work for a living instead of beg.  All those things which were withheld from him as an invalid, begin to unfold in his life.  Everything not only changes in a moment of time, but it continues to change as he walks through every day.

So with us (yes, even - and perhaps especially - Christians!) when we are bound for years and years by some unseen affliction that keeps us living in a victim-state.  We are powerless to help ourselves ... others seem to get healed and move on and leave us in the dust, wondering why, what's wrong with us.  And then the Master comes to us and asks us if we want to be healed.  

Do we?  do we really?  or are we used to the attention we're getting? are we fond of the pity and the emotional stroking we get because we have this great circumstance in our lives that colours every other aspect of our being?  Some of us feel that way, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves.  I know I did - for many years.  But there comes a point when we must face that question, having come to the end of ourselves, when we are supremely tired of living life that way, and tell the Creator that we want to get better - and that there's nothing that we can do to GET better; we've tried everything on our own with abysmal results.  So we ask for Him to take over.  We tell Him - in response to His ever-present question - that we want to be healed.  

I did.  And when I did, He gave me the ability to get up and walk.  
But that was only the beginning of a whole new lifestyle - one that's ongoing.

No comments:

Post a Comment