Stuck. We’ve all been there.
Stuck in the past. Stuck in the present. Stuck worrying about the future.
What do we do, and how do we run after God when all we feel is stuck?
The man by the pool of Bethesda had been sick for 38 years while lying right next to the place of healing, waiting for someone to help him into the water. (You can read the story in John 5.) Jesus saw him and said, “Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!” And he was healed, just like that.
This simple story of healing holds truths we can apply to our lives today. The man was stuck, unable to move himself toward healing, but he encountered Jesus, and he walked away unstuck.
Let’s break the story down.
Immediately upon healing the man, Jesus told him to stand. What would have happened if the man didn’t believe Him? What if he refused to get up? Would he still have been healed? Probably. But he wouldn’t have been unstuck. His inaction would have kept him living right there on that sick mat.
Next, there is significance in Jesus’ instruction that the man pick up his mat – his place of comfort and familiarity — and move. We so easily (and most often unconsciously) fall into the mindset of It’s a pit, but it’s my pit and it’s familiar. We don’t think we can change our situation, so we accept it, embrace it and live there. The familiar feels way bigger than God. It feels comfortable. It feels far less scary than stepping out in faith.
Finally, we must walk. Literally get off your tushy and move. Walk away from your chains. Move toward Jesus. If the man had refused to take the scary step of stepping out, he likely would have died on that mat, right beside the water that offered healing. Instead he believed Jesus, moved and didn’t look back.
It all seems so simple, reading this story that happened so long ago. But why do these things feel so hard? Why do we resist God’s urging to move us forward?
We are free – simply because God says we are — but we live like we’re not. We let the wounds of our past and our circumstances keep us stuck and living on a sick mat.
The truth of the healing and freedom God offers us is so much more real than any bondage we perceive. What if the man beside the pool had walked away, and then gone back to sit on his mat because it was home? What if he had decided to live there? The result would have been a sad life that was lived chained to a lie.
You’re not really free, the enemy whispers.
Oh, but we really are.
God said in Isaiah 52:11 (NLT), “Go now, leave your bonds and slavery. Put Babylon behind you, with everything it represents, for it is unclean for you. You are the Lord’s holy people.”
Today we have a choice. We can either stand up, pick up our mat and move, or we can stay put and let fear win.
How would we live our lives if we actually believed God? I mean really believed Him. What would our world look like? What if we love as He loves and forgive as He forgives? What if we looked more like Jesus?
What if you believe what God says about you? What if you take Him at His word and walk in the freedom He has already settled in you?
Can’t you see it? God has already done it! He has given you a new heart. The Holy Spirit lives inside of you. You have the mind of Christ. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (NKJV).
I don’t know why Jesus chose that particular man beside the pool that day, but I know He came to free him from a life stuck on that mat. And just as much, He has chosen you and has come to free you.
There are places God wants to take you. But until you move, you are just walking in circles and rereading the same chapter.
In this new year, I hope you are not stuck. But if you are, I encourage you to resolve to move with purpose. Let’s run after God. Let’s live by the words He is speaking over us. He is speaking healing, freedom and movement over you today. He is speaking life.