Pick Up The Mat

by Rhonda, March 20, 2022

Over the past week, I've found myself entering into some thoughts that are not serving me well right now.  I find myself thinking about ways to reconstruct my old life.  For whatever reason, I thought about some of the better times, before everything fell apart.  Then, I thought about how to manipulate my situation to reconstruct my old life.  Unfortunately, every scenario I entertained required taking my current situation into my own hands instead of trusting God and listening to his instruction.

Sometimes, the urge to return to familiar is overwhelming.  But, familiar isn't always better.  

After all of this work around healing after divorce, after all of my conversations with Christ over moving forward, I was pretty disappointed with myself.  I could feel myself sliding backwards, and my anger and despair were returning.  I wanted my old life back, even though I knew it is not possible, nor is it God's will for my life.  I was trying to live in the past, instead of seeing what God has for me in the present.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is change how we think about our circumstances.  What if, during this season, God simply wants us to get well?  My story is beautiful, but my story has hard things in it.  God doesn't write boring stories.  But, maybe that's the point.

Our life is called to a journey - a transformation.  God is not really interested in rebuilding my old life.  He's much more interested in the transformation in me during this journey.  Actually, I believe he's more interested in the transformation along the journey than the destination.  Manipulating my circumstances, as well as other people in my life, to try to recreate what I had does not lead me along a path of transformation. 

It isn't God's will.

This weekend, I read the story of the man by the pool in Bethesda in John 5:

4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

I'm pretty familiar with this story, but I noticed a new detail when I read it this time.  Jesus told the man to leave.  He told him to pack his things, get up, and walk.  Why was it important to Jesus that the man left?  He'd been there for thirty-eight years.  Where was he supposed to go?  Why couldn't he continue to hang out by the pool?

The man was an invalid, and the place he had lain for thirty-eight years was for invalids.  But, Jesus healed him.  He'd been transformed.  He didn't belong by the pool anymore.  He was being called to a new life, and a new place.

When I came across this truth, I had to ask myself an honest question.  Do I want to get well?  If so, I've got to get out of this place, because I don't belong there anymore.  I am not supposed to stay in the same place, acting like God hasn't healed me.  

God is writing a beautiful story in me (and you).  When I try to live in the past, I'm trying to trade my story and my journey and return to a place that I no longer belong.  I could spend my time reconstructing my old life, but here's one thing I know.  I can have everything I think makes me happy, but without Jesus I have nothing.  Spending time trying to pursue things outside of God's calling is pointless.  Only in His presence is fullness of joy.  

Jesus had the invalid leave the place he was in because he was no longer an invalid.  I am no longer a broken, shattered woman trying to pick up the pieces.  God continues to heal my heart, and he continues to give me strength. Do I want to get well?  Am I willing to pick up my mat and walk?

Yes, Lord, I am.

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