Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
When Jesus saw [the invalid] lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“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 5:6-7 (NIV)
There’s an old Irish legend I was reminded of again this morning as I was reflecting on the things which had already filled the rest of the day and were quickly setting the agenda for the rest of the week. The timing couldn’t have been better to help me get over what seemed to be an ever-growing mountain of stuff.
It seems that these two Irish lads were on their way to somewhere else for the day, when they came upon a wall seemingly too high to scale. They stood there for awhile in the cold morning mist pondering their dilemma. As they looked at that wall standing in their way, they decided that the first step in figuring out how to get over the wall was a renewed commitment to where they wanted to go…and so in unison they took their caps off and threw them over the wall.
Now they were committed to get over the wall.
The invalid in the passage of scripture above was sitting at the Sheep Pool called Bethesda in the northeast area of the Temple where the sheep were brought into Jerusalem for sacrifice. The pool was trapezoidal shaped and about as big as a football field. Beneath the pool there were underground springs which every now and then bubbled up and caused the surface of the waters to move. It was believed the waters had curative powers, and that the bubbling was caused by an angel, and that the first person to get into the pool after the movement of the waters would be healed from any illness that afflicted them.
Here lay a great number of the crippled, blind, and paralyzed waiting for some movement of the waters… shuffling sounds of needy, hurting people struggling to get into the water just as it began to bubble and move a bit.
And this is where that man, whom Jesus saw, had been waiting for thirty-eight years. Never able to rise and stretch, never able to socialize in the streets, or to wander around for a casual breath of fresh air, he sat there relying on the help of others which never seemed to come. He was a prisoner of his own despair.
And when Jesus asked him “Do you want to be well?” the man’s response what not “yes,” but instead he offered excuses and defenses. He had given up. And so he responded by saying: “Oh, but I can’t, my problem is that I have no one to help me into the pool at just the right moment. They never seem to show up, they’re always late.” There he was confronted with the healer of healers, and instead of recognizing the opportunity before him, he complained: “You see it’s not my fault that I’m still this way; my friends have let me down.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had those moments before. Facing walls and mountains seemingly too big to get over, we sit waiting for someone to come along, or something to happen to help us over the wall, to make our lives better. We pile disappointment after disappointment and failure after failure, and blame after blame onto the walls in front of us and just sit there, in our self-imposed pity party, waiting for someone to come along, or something to happen to lift us over and out of our plight.
Blaming our dilemma on someone else, or on past disappointments, or on unfair circumstances, we carry feelings of frustration, hurt, anger and worry for years—offered as excuses for our situations—while the abundant living that God calls us all to waits on the other side of the wall, on the other side of the mountain, or on the other side of the valley we often find ourselves walking within.
We offer excuses for wherever we find ourselves that keep us right where we are today, and where we’ll probably find ourselves tomorrow. And like the man at sheep pool, we too often find ourselves sitting there staring at that same wall years down the road.
Maybe we ought to take a lesson from those Irish lads when they faced that wall seemingly too high to scale. Maybe we ought to be committed to something more and better for our lives.
Maybe we should just throw our caps over whatever wall we find in front of us…and figure out a way to get over.
We may be pleasantly surprised to find more than our caps on the other side.
In His Name—Scott