With Posterous shutting down next month, I figured it was time I high-tailed it somewhere a little more stable. I was torn between Tumblr and WordPress, but ultimately decided that since I’m writing to a general audience and not a teenage one, I should come here. There are still a lot of bells and whistles I have yet to figure out (
for instance, I’m still waiting for my old Posterous blog content to cooperate and import here), but I doubt I’ll be offending anyone if all the kinks aren’t worked out on the first go.
With all that being said, time for my inaugural post.
I had a moment of enlightenment early in the week, and I thought it might be worth sharing. I’m not gonna lie, the past 2 or so years have been hard. Things haven’t been going as I would have preferred, and a lot of it is situational: good intentions have been questioned and dismissed; things I was hoping for have either fallen through or not come through at all. And, with my last birthday, suddenly I was face to face with what I’m not now, compared to what I was years before. And I had to reckon myself with my current place in life, even if it’s not the place I was hoping I would be by now. Feeling overlooked, put aside, or just like a downright failure can do a number on your perception. You start wondering, Does anybody who can help see me? And then, when nobody magically comes to your rescue, you start thinking it’s time to rescue yourself. Fixing the problem becomes priority. That’s why, when I read this story, I realized the guy and I have a lot in common.
It’s a Bible story where there is a guy who can’t walk. There are several stories like that in the Bible, but the one I’m thinking of is the one where the lame man is camped out by the pool of Bethesda. The legend around that time was that if the water stirred, it meant an angel was stirring it, and the first one in is healed. It’s not stated whether this was a myth, or one of those stories that is “true” from 50 years ago (someone grandpa John knew when he was a boy who was healed), or whether it was something that was well-known and currently provable. But, however the story originated, it was good enough to draw a sickly crowd. The guy in the story had been camped out there for 38 years. It goes without saying, but that’s a really long time, especially given that people didn’t live as long back then. I would imagine he had been there since he was a kid. Jesus sees this guy, comes up to him, and asks him, “Do you want to be made well?” Hello, Captain Obvious.
I tried to imagine what it would be like to literally be stuck in the same old thing for 38 years. To wake up every morning with hope taunting you, only ten steps away. I would think you’d start out hopeful enough, with your childhood optimism, which would begin eroding in the teen years, until the twenties or thirties, when you start realizing that in fact no one is going to come for you, and you have to do it yourself. You would never take your eyes off the pool, because if today is different, and you can just get there, life is going to be better.
So, when Jesus asks the guy, “Do you want to be made well?” I find it totally understandable that this man, not even looking at Jesus, would say, “No one helps me into the water; someone else always beats me there.” Like us–like me–he’s focused on the opportunity. If the water stirs, and I’m the first one to get in, then things are gonna change around here. Pinning hope on a series of chances. Bingo, that’s me. If I can get out of this situation and into a better situation, then I’ll be able to live better and be who I wanted to be.
The only problem is, this scenario doesn’t really work out. Now, in the case of dangerous or physically unhealthy situations, of course this wouldn’t apply. But for the everyday task of trying to make my personal life better, if I’m completely focused on my own tinkering and scheming, I leave no room for God. He might be trying to talk to me, but I’ve always got one eyeball on the pool. I’m not really listening. He can give advice if He wants, but either way, I already have my own plan. Because I think I have to–even if it’s not working, as long as I’m working on my plan, the possibility exists that something good could happen.
Fortunately, Jesus is not deferred by the plans this guy already had for himself. He told the guy to grab his stuff, get up, and walk. And he did.
This story was a good reminder for me that I can’t rest all my hope on a series of happenstances. If I’m not mindful of Jesus’ presence and what He might be trying to tell me, I could miss out on even greater opportunities. So, now I’m trying to remember to pray, “Jesus, I’m waiting for you.” Even if it’s just every now and then–just to remind myself that I only know so much, and I can only do so much. The “right circumstances” are usually too elusive to plan for. I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than expectedly disappointed.