(May 25)

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed… One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.” (Jn 5: 1-3, 5-9)

The sick man does not exactly answer the Lord’s question, which is about him and what he wants. But respond he does, telling the Lord about other people and what they are doing (or not doing) for him. After thirty-eight years of his crippling sickness, the man does not dare to want anything, so utterly powerless and helpless does he feel. But the One Who has the power to heal us takes this honest response, this admission of powerlessness, as a cue to do His thing and heals the sick man. The Lord does this not through the water of the pool, but through the “living water” He has on offer, which is grace, and through His Way, – through the call to “take up” the “pallet,” this man’s particular cross, and to walk.

I think that some of us, for whatever reason that God only knows, need to experience utter powerlessness in order to surrender to the power of God in our lives; to find true faith and to move forward in and with Him. I’m reminded of the wisdom of 12-Step programs, which have as Step 1 an admission of powerlessness over some debilitating addiction or mindset, and as Step 2, embracing a belief that “a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.” Today let me take a look at my long-standing ailment(s), – the kinds of obsessions or addictions we might get stuck in, like a broken record, for months or years, and which we may no longer dare to “want” to be healed. “Others,” as we might think, are better at this, and have better resources to deal with it, but “they” don’t tend to bother with us. Today I can confess my powerlessness to One Who has the power and the resources to heal me, in His own Way. Lord, I have “no man” today, who is able and willing to lift me out of my rut(s) and put me into the “pool” that appears to be bringing happiness to others. “Let it be unto me according to Your word” (Lk 1: 38), as I take up the cross of my past experiences and walk forward in You.

(Happy upcoming Sunday of the Paralytic, dear Friends!)