Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:4-6
Right before I had my kidney transplant, I talked with the management of the apartment complex I live in because I knew it would be difficult for me to walk very long distances for a while during my recovery. Their solution was to put a handicapped sign in the parking space in front of my apartment. So while I recovered, my mom or whoever else drove me around would park in that spot, making the burden of my care a little easier. Fast forward 3+ years now, and the sign is still there. I long realized I should stop parking there, but I had grown accustomed to the convenience; sadly, I had gotten used to using my ‘handicap’–my transplant–as a crutch for me and as a means for seeing myself as ill. I would be livid at any person that parked there, because it was my spot. It was designated for me. It was not until the new management of the complex chose to make some renovations with not so great implications that God revealed to me that all of the illnesses I have fought over the years have served to handicap me mentally–and even more sad, spiritually.
As it dawned on me last week, I had been asking God why I had not received the manifestation of my healing in some of the other illnesses I had faced, and it was this very mindset, the mindset I shared with the man in the scriptures above, that had served to cripple me. This man had spent the last 38 years of his life, just one step away from his healing, but because he was crippled, he could not reach the waters in time. You see, at this pool, every year an angel came down to trouble the waters, and the first person in at the troubling of those waters would be healed and delivered. So he had been laying there for 38 years crippled, even more crippled by the physical reality of his illness. I’m sure it had to be heart-wrenching for him, to be in the presence of healing power and to not have the means to attain it. And I think about myself, I have been confessing my healing since the day I was diagnosed. Some things I have been able to conquer, but some things I have not. For those things I have not, I have allowed that handicap sign to keep me crippled, in some way things reminding me of the reality of the things I face.
Last week, the new management instituted a fine for parking in that space without a handicapped tag or permit…so I have to park my car elsewhere now. It clicked for me too and I realized that I had been imprisoning myself because of the reminders; I had conditioned myself to see me as ill, sickly, and incomplete. With that threat of a fine came an eye-opening realization: I had to tell myself to get up and walk like Jesus told this man.(John 5:8-9) Tonight during bible study, I spoke of fortifying your mind. It had taken a threat of a fine for me to realize that I allowed the realities of the illnesses that attacked my body to take root and cause me to lie down in defeat. I had forgotten who I am in Christ.
Many things, not just physical illnesses, come to handicap us, knocking us down in the faith fight. Sometimes we stay down longer than we need too. But when Jesus tells you to get up…have the faith and trust that He will never leave you there if you simply believe what He has already told you.
Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. Acts 3:2-8