Do You Want To Be Made Well?

Do you want to be made well?

Jesus asks this question of a life-long disabled man, someone unable to assume the duties and responsibilities of normal adulthood. He had lived thirty-eight years as a hopeless beggar, waiting for a miracle.

Jesus asks,”Do you want to be made well?”

Surely he would answer, “Yes, of course.”

In fact, the man didn’t say that. He made an excuse: “But no one will get me to the miracle water fast enough!”

Jesus ignored the excuse. He told the man to pick up his mat and walk.

The man did.

Most won’t.

An article on a health-related website detailed the story of a woman with multiple health issues, particularly diabetes and decreased lung capacity, who had been stabilized after an extensive hospital stay. She was sent home with careful instruction on food choices and a mandated complete cessation of smoking.

Less than a month later, she was re-admitted to the hospital in significantly worse health than when released. She begged the doctor to fix her so she could attend a grand-daughter’s wedding. Alarmed at her state, the physician made some inquiries and learned that she violated every dietary instruction AND immediately resumed smoking despite the instructions.

She didn’t want to be well. She wanted someone to fix her.

Don’t we all?

We search for the magical God who will override not only all our unfortunate decisions but also all forces of nature, mathematical odds (lottery winners, anyone?), economic systems and our own DNA in order to make us well.

Consider again this man to whom Jesus spoke. He spent his life infirm, subject to the whims and appearances of others. He had no profession and had developed no skills of daily living except begging for crumbs of food.

Jesus says, “Get up. Walk forward and join the human community as a fully participating member.”

But it takes work and courage to be made well. Real wellness exists in a state of physical and spiritual cooperation with God. It also means sometimes defining wellness as acceptance of physical illness, economic hardship, relational pain, and even death, for wellness does not mean escaping these things.

Above all, the state of wellness exists in those who are willing to be responsible for their own choices, refusing to blame others for their circumstances, and actively receiving merciful grace from God so they may give it to others.

A well person might be debilitated and ill physically, but sees illness as the path, however unwillingly chosen, to finding wholeness of soul. Remember, Jesus soundly condemned those who suggested that the problems of the physically ill and infirm were caused by either their own sin or sin of their parents.

Conversely, wellness is not necessarily the acquisition of perfect physical health, which can and often does become an object of worship.

Instead, a well person is an integrated, God-breathed human being, prepared at any moment to enter the full presence of God while living equally as fully as a member of the human community.

Even so, a large percentage of physical illnesses today, the so-called “diseases of civilization” mostly tied to atrocious food and beverage habits, are caused by unhealthy choices. How does a person who lives in that kind of disease state answer Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be made well?” Such is the case with our re-hospitalized woman.

What would it mean in that case to “take up our mats and walk?”

I believe that “walking” means acknowledging that all choices have consequences, many so far off in the future that we can’t fathom what they might be. “Walking” also means willingness to accept those consequences without blaming others–or expecting the magical fix. Finally, “walking” means intentionally leaving behind that which keeps us stuck and moving forward into holy freedom.

I fear we’ve become those who no longer know how to walk as well people.

Pretty pitiful.

One thought on “Do You Want To Be Made Well?

  1. As I read your post, I looked back on my own life and remembered you asking me the same question some 8 years ago in your office. Do you want to be healed? I remember very well what I said and especially your response to my answer.
    My answer was a yes I did want to be healed. Your response surprsied me, but after 8 years of living that response, I now understand what you meant.
    As I recall, you told me that healing was instantaneous, but it was also a process that wasn’t complete with just a simple yes. When I looked confused you told me that while my sins were forgiven the instant I asked for forgiveness, that my healing was a process that took place as I lived out my response to God’s offer of forgiveness and Grace. You went on to say that as I continued to say yes to God’s call, that I would continue on the journey that I’d started by saying yes I wanted to be healed. You also said that I’d have good days and hard days. God’s forgiveness and healing did not promise me earthly riches, good health, or anything else I might desire.
    What it offered was a relationship with him and a place with him in eternity.

    So, as I sit here tonight writing my comment on your post, I’d like to say that what you said still holds true for me today. Each day is a challenge and each day I am given the opportunity to say yes to God’s offer or to say no. Some days are harder than others, and some days it seems like everything is perfect and it is easy to say yes. Thankfully, now days I have more easy days than hard ones, but it wasn’t always that way. Each day I make the choice to as you say “pick up my mat and walk”.

    One last thought on this. As I thought about what you said, I couldn’t help but compare it to the young people that I teach. I teach high school juniors and seniors as well as some 9th and 10th graders. I have about 20 juniors and seniors and many are turning 18 this year. Many have been dealt a very difficult life and the future doesn’t seem very bright. I am a teacher offering them hope and a way out of their life. My hope and prayer each and every day is that they will also take up their mats and walk. In the end, no matter what I do, the choice is theirs.

    Thank you for reminding me, that in order to be an example, I too must continue to “walk” when it is easier to quit. Thank you too for being God’s instrument through which he revealed himself to me. I was able to say yes because you said yes and you shared that healing with me.

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