Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spiritual Rehabilitation


“Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” John 5:8

My father recently had back surgery to address a back problem that has plagued him with pain for years. At the age of 75, the surgeon told him that the surgery would be painful, but that eventually the chronic pain that he had suffered from a basketball injury would be alleviated.

After weeks in the hospital recuperating from the surgery, my father had to go to another facility for rehabilitation. He had to learn how to walk again, how to go up and down stairs, how to put on his clothes. The nurses and physical therapists urged him to stay out of the bed, although the pain made him want to stay in the bed. He had to get up and move if he was going to get better.

Sometimes life can paralyze us. Fear or the pains and hurts of the past can leave us in a stagnant state like the man at the Pool of Bethesda who Jesus met in the fifth chapter of John. By the Pool of Bethesda there was an assortment of the lame, diseased and blind who were all hanging out waiting for an opportunity to be healed.

Hurtful words. Rejection. Physical and sexual abuse. Failure. All of these things can leave us lame, blind and paralyzed like that group by the Pool of Bethesda. We look fine on the outside, but on the inside we’re wounded. We are not walking in the purpose God has destined for us. We’re paralyzed.

Like the paralyzed man who said he didn’t have anyone to carry him to the waters when the angel came and troubled them, we can make excuses. And they might not be excuses. They could be real things that have happened to us to cause us to be in this state. Rape. Divorce. The death of a loved one. A tragedy. A disease. A real injury or trauma has occurred.

It may not be an excuse in explaining how we got there. But maybe we start to make excuses about why we stay. It’s easy to get stuck by the Pool of Bethesda. It gets comfortable, even though we don’t really want to be there. You have a lot a lot of company at the Pool of Bethesda. You may say, “No one will help me and I can’t help myself.”

But when you have an encounter with Jesus, he will help you and he has the power to heal you and restore you. But there is something you have to do.

The first question that Jesus asked the paralyzed man was, “Do you want to get well?”

Is there a desire within you to get better? Then you’re going to have to make the decision to do something.

Although the skillful surgeon had operated on my father successfully, if my father didn’t get up and out of the bed and go to physical therapy, he would not be able to walk. Rehabilitation was a part of his restoration. And sometimes we need spiritual rehabilitation. We have to learn how to walk and exercise our faith.

Jesus told the man, “Get up!”

Faith does not mean we don’t have to move. We have to move. We have to move, pick up our bed of excuses that we’ve been relying on for years and walk, having faith that God will give us the power to do what we can’t do. But we have to make the effort daily to try. God will not open up Red Seas in our lives if we don’t first stretch out our hands. He will not open up Red Seas if we are not willing to march across them.

What dream has died inside of you that left you lame? What hurt from your past has immobilized you? What pain in your present is paralyzing you?

Jesus has already said through his stripes, his sacrifice on the cross, you are healed. Now he’s asking, “Do you want to better?” Then he’s telling you today, “Get up!”

Reflection:

What pain from the past has paralyzed you?
What dream for your future has died?
What steps can you take today to move beyond that pain?

Application:

 Acknowledge the injury or pain from the past that has hurt you. Look at it and understand how it has affected you.
 Forgive the person (or yourself) that has caused you pain.
 Write a letter to the person who hurt you and forgive them. Write a letter to a person you have hurt and ask for their forgiveness. (It doesn’t matter if the person is alive or dead or whether you give them the letter or not. Just write it.)
 Meditate on and memorize scriptures about healing and forgiveness.
 Pray to God for wisdom to show you what steps you can take in your spiritual rehabilitation.
 Write down five things you can do to fulfill an unfulfilled dream. Or is there another dream that God is giving you to fulfill?
 Pray for a friend who can be a source of information and encouragement during your spiritual rehabilitation.

Scriptures:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

He healeth the broken in heart,and bindeth up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; Jeremiah 30:17

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Prayer:

Dear God,
I want to get better. Give me the strength to get up and get moving. I know that by your stripes I am healed. Help to me walk in that reality.
Amen.

2 comments:

Lisa Maria Carroll said...

Monica,

What a great way to stay in touch and keep those of us who love your father abreast of his progress.

Lisa

Anonymous said...

Monica, your writing has inspired me to give up the hurt and shame I've been holding on to. And to let go and truly let God have his way in my life. I know I can't change the past but I can change the future. Thank you for using your gifts to exalt God and encourage others.

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