Do you want to be healed?
At the beginning of John 5 there is a story about a man who has been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Here’s his existence–he sits by a pool that the people believe has healing powers every time it is stirred. But apparantly they only believe it heals those who are first into the pool. He is so hampered by his disability, whatever it is specifically, that he can never make it into the pool in time to be healed. So he’s been sitting there for years, just hoping that maybe one of these times someone will come along and help him win the magic pool derby.
Jesus happens by this place and sees the man sitting there on the ground. He asks the man a question that seems pretty ridiculous at first glance–“Do you want to get well?’ What do you think Jesus? He’s been sitting there, barely able to move, dependant on the help of others to survive for years, and you’re wondering if he’s like to be well?
Probably because this question seems so ridiculous at first, I have read over it many times without paying much attention. But about a week ago the Holy Spirit used it to slap me in the face. There are ways that I want my life to change, that I believe would line me up more with the life Jesus means for me to live. Ways that I’m broken where he could make me whole. And at times in my life I’ve cried out to God to make me well. To heal the things I can’t heal myself and transform me. And in one of those times about I week ago, the Holy Spirit used this question of Jesus to respond. I asked to be healed, and he said, “But do you want to be healed?”
My first response was the same as above, “Of course!” But as I thought about it more, I realized the answer wasn’t that simple. Because the things that he was asking about are things that have become very ingrained in me, things that give me some kind of comfort even if they’re not good, just because I’m so used to them. I think we all have these things. Those parts of you that you try to hide, even from yourself, alternating between pretending they’re not there and trying desperately to change them. But they don’t change, at least not for long. And as much as we wouldn’t want to admit it, one of the reasons they don’t change is that there’s a part of us that doesn’t want them to. As crazy as it sounds for Jesus to ask the invalid if he wanted to be healed, I’m guessing there were some by that pool who would have balked at the invitation. Their life had become contrived around trying to get well, what would they do if they were actaully healed? They may have hated having broken bodies, but they were used to it, at least they knew what to expect, how life worked.
I’m learning that before Jesus can transform me, I have to ask him to give me a passionate desire to be healed. I have to be honest about the part of me that doesn’t want to be. I have to ask him to change that first, so that when he asks, “Do you want to be healed?” I can say yes and mean it completely.