The invalid lay on his bedroll, looking at the pool where–allegedly–one could receive healing. His eyes were blank–not thoughtful, certainly not hopeful. He stared at a familiar scene, indifferently. Thirty-eight years of this view had bred a leaden acceptance.
This was home. Nothing would ever change. His family had dumped him here–they didn’t stick around to make sure he could get into the pool when it was stirred up. He couldn’t move himself quickly enough, and it had been years since he’d even tried.
Then a voice asked, “Do you want to get well?”
It took several seconds for the meaning of the words to even register with him. ‘Get well?’ Do I remember what that feels like? He began to stammer out his sad story…how he was all alone, too weak to move into the water. He could hear the whining tone in his own voice and he trailed off, ashamed that he didn’t have the courage to just say, “Yes.”
“Get up, pick up those blankets…go home.”
What? No sympathetic tongue-clucking? No “you poor, poor man…”? Not even a handshake or a shoulder to cry on. Just a bare order. ‘Get on your feet and get out of here.’ As if he were an impostor–as if he’d been faking illness all these years.
Shaking his head, he started to drag himself upright, just to show this stranger how insensitive those words were. But as he began to move, he felt his strength return–such a strange sensation! He’d nearly forgotten how it felt to support his own weight. He stood, then bent down and picked up his bedroll. No lightheadedness. He wasn’t winded or unsteady. He looked around for the stranger, and saw him standing just a few steps away. He was smiling now.
The former invalid looked down at the pool, his home for so many years. Why did I stay here so long? Well–I guess I was waiting for him. (See John 5:1-18)
Sometimes habitual sin becomes a comfortable home, and one can’t imagine being able to leave it forever. When asked, “Do you want to shake this off for good?” it is hard to answer an unqualified “Yes.” When one’s sin is familiar territory, the unknown can seem frightening. But more than that, it can feel too good to be true. How could God ever pull me out of this? one thinks.
Surrender means letting go of my will to choose what I want to do, in favor of letting God tell me what is best. But sometimes, surrender means letting go of my doubt that the best is really possible.
“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37 NLT)