When Your One Thing is the Wrong Thing
It is a joy to welcome Margaret Kemp once more as our guest writer to Restore's Monday Musing Blog. Her beautiful writing always touches my heart in deep places of need. It is so easy to get caught up in thinking that if we just have that One Thing, our lives will be more significant. Often, Jesus has a different, better answer for our lives.
What is it that we really need? As you read today consider what Jesus might be offering you?
John 5:2-8 ESV “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lane, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’”
He was so close.
He was on the brink of attaining the one thing that would bring him wellness, or so he thought.
But someone else always got there first. Day after day, the paralyzed man dragged himself to the edge of the pool, for legend had it when the waters were “stirred up” in the Pool of Bethesda, the first person in the water would be healed from whatever affliction tormented him.
But only the first.
So day after day, the man, an invalid who had suffered for 38 years, dragged himself to the pool and watched.
Hopeful, he waited, poised to make his move. But someone else always got there first.
His heart’s cry was to have a friend who would put him in the water…give him his big break…usher him into wholeness and happiness.
So many times I’ve been like that man, desperately wanting that One Thing that promised to bring me significance, security, wholeness and happiness. My Pool of Bethesda has taken on different forms, but the cry of my heart has been the same: If only I could have this One Thing.
My first “Pool of Bethesda” was the stage of the auditorium in my elementary school. On that stage knelt a pint-sized pair, Mary and Joseph, bending over a baby doll in a wooden manger. Behind them stood angels in white robes made from bedsheets, their tinsel halos slightly askew. Above them towered the most prominent angel of all, Gabriel, portrayed by a tall, long-haired sixth grade girl. (Yes, the part of Gabriel went to a girl.)
I wanted to be on that stage, proudly flaunting wire-framed chiffon wings, delivering Gabriel’s all important lines. Instead, there I was on the sidelines, sitting in a metal folding chair on the auditorium floor, singing in the choir with every other sixth grader who didn’t get a part on stage.
My infirmity was my feeling of worthlessness. I’d auditioned for the part of Gabriel to show my teacher and classmates that this shy, plain, chubby eleven-year-old was worthy. A role in the play was the One Thing I needed to bring me the feeling of significance I craved. But the part went to someone else.
As a teen, my If-Onlys looked a little different.
If only my parents would let me date…
If only I could be popular…
Have you ever felt like that? If only you could attain that one goal, you’d be complete. Your troubles would be over.
If only could get married…
If only I could be a mother…
If only my child would win the award, the place on the team, the scholarship…
If only I could get the job, the promotion, the raise…
If only I could quit my job…
If only I could be financially secure…
So we pray our hearts out for the One Thing we think we need. And sometimes we get it, yet it leaves us feeling strangely empty, unfulfilled, wanting something else.
And sometimes we plead with God, but He says no.
Jesus didn’t help the paralyzed man into the waters.
Instead He said, “Get up and walk.”
We often go to the wrong pools searching for answers to our problems. But if listen for His voice, we’ll find that He offers us a Better Thing. Jesus offers to lift us up—not into the waters but onto our feet, so we can stand on the solid ground of His love for us.
In our insecurity, He offers us a new identity: child of God.
In our anxiety He offers us the peace that passes understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
In every frustrating situation, He helps us to find contentment.
Whether we’re well off financially or struggling to make ends meet, he gives us the strength to adapt to our circumstances. (Philippians 4:12-13)
It’s time for us to reconsider. If God hasn’t given us what we want, might He be offering a Better Thing?
Might He be showing us the One Thing we really need is Him?
And in His strength, we can rise up and walk.
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