In John's Gospel (5:1-18), there's a great story about a man who has waited for nearly a lifetime for healing. The guy had been crippled for thirty-eight years, and he spent his days lying on a mat by the pool of Bethesda, longing for a miracle. This man lived in agony, struggling with his condition.
Many people today struggle with their conditions. Some may have serious health issues, like the man lying by the pool. Others struggle with emotional issues, which can also be very painful and debilitating.
Like the man in this story, many sit back year after year, waiting for a miracle to happen, waiting for some big event to come along and make all their problems go away.
In the gospel story, Jesus saw the man lying next to the pool, clearly in need. It was obvious that he was crippled, but Jesus asked a simple, straightforward question, "Do you want to be well?" The man's response to Jesus' question was to list all of his excuses. "I have no one to help me. When I'm almost there, someone jumps ahead of me." How many of us, when confronted with a problem, do just what this man did and start rattling off the reasons why we can't do something?
I'm fascinated by the way Jesus responded. He didn't say, "yes, I agree with you. You've had a tough time. Your situation is hopeless."
No, Jesus looked at him and said, in effect, "If you really want to get well, if you are truly serious about getting your life together, if you really want to get out of this mess, here's what you have to do: Get yourself off the ground, take your mat, and get going." When the man did what Jesus told him to do, "immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked."
The challenge for us is a simple one. If you're serious about getting your life in order, if you really want to be made physically, emotionally, and spiritually whole, you must get up and get on with your life. No more living in the past, no more making excuses. Stop blaming others, be it the government, the church, your family, your friends, your boss, or maybe even yourself. When you think about it, the blame game never gets us anywhere anyway, so be done with it.
Tomorrow will be a new day, a fresh start. It's time to get going. There's lots to be done :)