“Not now. I don’t have time. I don’t feel like it,” are excuses I’ve used to put off making a decision. Although these explanations might be valid, they are also methods I use to give myself permission to procrastinate. Each time I’ve decided to postpone the decision, it is disobedience to what God wants, my faith erodes, and my trust in God is non-existent.
One of my favorite Biblical mentors on this subject is found in John 5:1–11. A man paralyzed for thirty-eight years lived in a “colony” of people with disabilities—these were severe impairments: blind, deaf, lame, and paraplegic. The man had gotten used to his own condition of inability to use his legs to walk and had grown accustomed to his circumstances. He was not expecting to ever walk again. He had seen many people healed—everyone, it seemed, but him. Explained in verse seven, “from time to time the angel of the Lord” would come down and stir the waters, the first one to step into the pool would be cured of whatever disease he had.
Enter Jesus. As our Lord does with us, He asked the man in John 5 verse six, “Do you want to get well?” Seems like an obvious question, doesn’t it? However, the paralytic man had to admit he wanted to be able to walk; Jesus wanted the man to admit his condition. The man had to take an honest responsibility for what he knew about his state. For thirty-eight years, he watched scores of miracles: he’d witnessed hundreds of others’ sight restored, hearing renewed, limbs returned to function. And today, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” Really? Was Jesus mocking his condition? Sarcastic? Hardly. Jesus wanted the paralyzed man to recognize his condition and invite Jesus to work.
Like the paralyzed man, some of us don’t know we are paralyzed; we’ve gotten used to our motionless state. We get used to limping along and to our uneven gait as we adjust to our disability. We make excuses to cover up the disability. God wants to reckon with us. He asks, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get well?” He wants us to allow Him to have his way and let go.
For years, the bandages of my past paralyzed. I was wrapped up in shame, blame, unworthiness. God had forgiven me, yet I couldn’t forgive myself. I had my own story, which I shared in counseling women one on one. One day, God asked me to publicly share about my years as a rebellious and promiscuous teenager, alcoholic, drug addict, alcoholic, drug dealer. He asked me to explain how I had heard and believed how God’s love covered a multitude of my sins (1 Peter 4:8). I didn’t want to do this, but I was at a crossroads. “Would I trust God?” I asked myself “Do I want to get well?” When I was willing to confess honestly, admit my condition, the first step to my healing began. The paralyzed man made excuses about why he couldn’t get well. The man said, “No one would help me up.” Basically, it was other people’s fault. He said people cut in front of him. Essentially, Jesus said in verse eight, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Get moving! You are no longer stuck! When the paralyzed man did what Jesus said, he was healed—immediately!
I made excuses for years; I was afraid of what other people would think. When I faced my wounds, losses, I realized many others had gone through similar things. What about you? What’s preventing you from getting over your past? At first it was very difficult to face what was paralyzing me, to let go of it and get moving. Purpose Driven Pastor Rick Warren says, “We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” What’s paralyzing you? For some of us, we take on the problems of others. We cope by sharing prayer requests about others’ illnesses, while ignoring our own guilt, loss, addiction, abuse, abortion, affair, shame, or perfectionism.
Jesus tells us, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” When you do what He asks, watch Him open doors for you. God has opened many doors for me, once I chose to share how He healed my addictions. He restored to me the years I had wasted on abusing drugs and alcohol. He allowed me to see those in the lifestyle of addiction from a different standpoint. Now I could share with them the same healing and hope I received from Jesus. Jesus did a new thing in me, and He could do it for others in the same struggle if they were willing to answer affirmatively to the question, “Do you want to get well?”
“Do not call to mind the former things or ponder the things of the past, behold I will do something new, it will spring forth, will you not take notice of it?” Isaiah 43:5
Jesus told the man twice to “pick up your mat and walk.” His paralytic mat was where he had spent his whole life. Can you imagine? Thirty-eight years on the same mat? The mat was the man’s platform; it was what gave him the right to share his story. Jesus told him, “You are well . . . ,” and the man went away and told the Jews it was Jesus who made him well.
“If the Son has set you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:3
Liz Curtis Higgs says, “Sharing with others your shameful past and God’s glorious grace doesn’t bind you to your past—it frees you from it’s power to hurt you any longer.”
Each time I share the story of how God healed my addictions, shame, and blame, God continues to heal me from the pain of this world. All I have to do is say, “Yes.” No more excuses. What about you? Do you want to get well?
Dear friends, let me pray for you now:
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for making excuses. Thank you for your mercy as we have told you, “Not now.” Thank you for your faithfulness, love, patience, grace, and mercy. We do want to get well. We ask you to do whatever it takes to heal us. For some of us, this is very scary prayer to pray, especially if we’ve been “stuck on our mat” for a very long time. Thank you for your timing. Please help us to allow you to take our hand and walk forward with you and allow you to do what you require to glorify yourself. We want to glorify you, whatever it takes. In Jesus’ name, amen.