On a Sabbath day during one of the Jewish feasts, Jesus went to Jerusalem. By the Sheep Gate there was the Bethesda pool, which was said to heal all manner of infirmities if entered when the water stirred. The place was big enough to require five roofed colonnades. All around the pool waited a multitude needing healing. The blind were there, and the lame and paralyzed. One guy waiting by the pool had been an invalid for almost 40 years.
Jesus saw him lying there and knew he’d been there a long time. “Don’t you want to be healed?”
The man said, “Yes, but I don’t have anyone to put me in the pool when the water starts stirring. And when I try to get in by myself, people push their way in front of me.”
Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
And at once the man was healed and he obeyed.
-- paraphrased from John 5
I love that story. It means the world to me for reasons I can’t fully explain. That the man was too weak to help himself resonates with me. That he needed help but nobody would help him resonates with me. That he’d been waiting 38 years for healing resonates with me. That everybody was pushing in front of him to get theirs in the pool resonates with me.
That all it took was Jesus resonates with me.
I am finding it harder and harder to put up with self-helpy preachers. I don’t get it. I want to be charitable — and for once I won’t name names, but you know who I’m talking about — and part of that is because these guys at least carry the pretense of evangelicalism. They aren’t all-around discounted like the Armani-clad cartoons on TBN. They still maintain supporters as long as pragmatism, Church Growth Movement ideology, and feel-good spirituality entertainment holds sway in American churches.
But that only makes them more gross. For the life of me I can’t figure out what makes them so appealing. Because when I watch some preacher talk about the power of me and about being positive and speaking blessings into existence, I have no idea who he’s talking to. Am I the first person to say I can’t do it? I can’t do it by myself. I’m incapable. I’m cynical, sure. Negative, yes. I’m a pessimist. But those aren’t my problems.
Sin is. I’m being honest with myself. And until they can be honest about themselves — and until they can be honest about me — I have no interest in discovering the champion inside of me. Because he ain’t in there. I checked.
I consider myself fairly spiritually mature. I trusted Jesus for salvation, and I keep doing that every day. But spiritually speaking, I’m a lame dude watching everyone else push their way into the foamy waters, waiting on something I can’t manage on my own. No amount of rush or maneuvering or special pool-entry techniques are cutting it. I’m waiting on Jesus to show up, to make the pool irrelevant.
Look, either grace is sufficient or it isn’t. Either the joy of the Lord is my strength or it isn’t. All the rest is b.s.
I wish I was living my best life now, but I’m not. I’m wandering (as if you couldn’t tell just by reading this post). And I’m wondering how to continue, day in and day out, loving scavenged manna. I mean, I’m scraping the stuff off the side of rocks and whatnot. But I know the dude in the gigantic arena saying he’s got lobster and caviar for me to eat is a liar.
Knowing that is no consolation. But knowing Jesus is.
(cross-posted at Thinklings)