Monday, March 1, 2010

Take Up Your Bed...And WALK

Take Up Your Bed…And WALK©

By Debbie Guinn

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

John 5:8 (NKJV)

About three weeks ago, I developed an ear infection that brought my life to a screeching halt. Not only was I in excruciating pain, I was also experiencing a great deal of vertigo, balance issues and severe hearing loss. After two weeks and two different antibiotics, I returned to my physician thinking I had not responded to either of the antibiotics because I felt no better. The doctor looked in my ear and informed me that the infection was gone but I had a lot of fluid built up in the middle ear. My sinuses were blocked, not allowing the fluid to drain properly. Fluid was causing all the current pain, hearing loss, and vertigo…not infection.

I see such a parallel in this illustration and the way many of us—myself included—often responds to God’s healing in our lives. We pray for healing in certain areas and He is faithful to heal. Yet, we do not recognize the healing when it comes. We continue to live as broken, wounded victims, unable to experience the healing we have received because of fear, doubt, unforgiveness, and more.

In John Chapter 5, Jesus meets a man, at the pool called Bethesda, who has been sick for 38 years. This man has been lying on a mat by the pool, hoping to be the first one in the pool when the angel stirs the waters, so that he might be made well. However, he is so weak and feeble; somebody always beats him into the water. Jesus, knowing how long he has been sick, asks him if he wants to be made well. I find his response quite interesting. He never answers Jesus question. Instead, he gives the reason for why he cannot receive the healing offered in the pool. In verse 8, Jesus says to the man, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” Verse 9 goes on to tell us, “And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked….”

Let’s break this story down just a little and see how it applies to our own lives. The first point I want to make is that Jesus not only knew the man was sick, He even knew how long he had been sick. He knows all about our wounds: what or who caused them, how deep they are, and how long they have been there. Just like with this man, nothing is too severe for God to heal. It does not matter if it is a one-week old, a 38-year old, or even a 98-year old wound. God sent Jesus to heal us (Psalm 107:20, Luke 4:18) and He did not put limitations on that healing.

Another thing I find in this story comes from verses 6 and 7 when Jesus asks the man if he wants to be made well and the man’s response is not a “Yes” or “No” but rather excuses for why he is not yet healed. During Jesus’ time on earth, we often heard Him say, “Your faith has made you well.” He didn’t say that to this man; this man did not have faith. However, God healed him despite his lack of faith. God does not base His healing on our faith. He heals because He desires to see His children whole. Sometimes, He wants to test our faith in the situation. Other times, He simply wants to lavish His love on us, His children. In this case, this man had all but lost hope and faith in ever getting well. God chose to show His power and in doing so caused the man to have faith in Him, as we will see next.

This man had suffered from his ailment for 38 years. He was so weak that he could not even get himself into the pool before others. Yet, when Jesus told him to rise, verse 9 tells us he was immediately made well. The Greek word for “rise” is “egeirō”. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, egeirō” means to cause one down with disease—lying sick—to recover. When Jesus told this man to arise, He was pronouncing healing on him. This healing was instantaneous, leaving no room for doubt and this man suddenly had hope again…and faith.

How do I know he now had faith? Jesus did more than tell this man to arise. He also told him to take up his bed and walk. Verse 9 says the man was immediately made well, then goes on to say he took up his bed and walked. It would take a great deal of faith to pick up his mat and walk, after all those years of lying around too sick to even crawl a few feet to get into the pool.

That brings us to my main point…this man took up his bed and walked. After Jesus healed him, he could have stayed there on his pallet where he had grown comfortable in life. After all, he had no responsibilities, no demands, and no stressors. Oh my, he would have to take care of himself if others heard of his healing. People would not feel sorry for him anymore. Where would he live? What kind of trade would he be able to learn at his age? What if he tried to stand up and fell on his face? Everybody would laugh. What if he got sick again and lost his prime spot by the pool? It really would be safer to stay right where he was. He didn’t need to pick up his bed and take off on a hike to who knows where. He could just enjoy his healing from there. In fact, he could be a witness for Jesus, telling other sick people about how He healed him…from right there beside the pool.

That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet how many of us do the exact same thing? God heals us of the wounds from our past but we are afraid to take up our beds and walk. We ask God to heal us from bitterness and unforgiveness…and He does. However, we continue with our vow never to trust anybody…too afraid of being hurt again. We have become comfortable living as a victim—enjoying the sympathy of others—and allow fear, insecurity, doubt, and more to keep us living as if we are still that victim, long after God has healed us of abuse. God heals us of addictions or unhealthy lifestyles. Yet the fear of failing keeps us from taking responsibility in our lives. Therefore, we become stagnant…never moving forward.

The Greek word for “walked” is “peripateō”. Thayer’s Lexicon defines “peripateō”, “to make one's way, progress; to make due use of opportunities.” I just love that! When the man in John Chapter 5 took up his bed and walked, he was making his way, making progress, making use of opportunities…new opportunities presented to him because of the healing he had received. When God heals us, He presents us with new opportunities…opportunities to make progress…opportunities to walk in His healing. It is up to us whether we are going to stay by the pool or take up our bed and walk.

Jesus said in John 10:10 (MSG) “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” Do not let the enemy steal the full, abundant life that Christ came to bring you by trapping “fluid in your ears”, long after your Father has healed the infection. Take up your bed and walk.