I sat confined in a maroon motorized wheelchair. It had been five years since the diagnosis. I had deteriorated quickly. I looked white as a ghost. Torsional dystonia reduced me to a mere shell of a frame. My arms had to go out to be raised. Hands had to go up to be dressed. Limbs hung limp at my sides to be bathed. People lugged me around like a rag doll. I swallowed a lump in my throat as I had to ask one of the most difficult questions confronting me. Was I going to die?
The black birds congregated on telephone wire. The cornstalks rustled, rolling out waves to the wind. A rush of noise oscillated like a fan throughout the fields. A voice called, distant yet ever so near. With a raised brow, the farmer stopped. He hungered after truth. “If you build it, he will come…” In the movie, Field of Dreams, a whisper from nowhere emerged from an abandoned cornfield. It offered the process of healing in exchange for a price to be paid. Would the farmer adhere, take heed to its beckoning? Like a child sneaking into a cookie jar, would he cease the plow to express a craving with wide-eyes; reach in to find meaning; dig deeper to experience delicious taste? The movie spoke meaning to my soul.
Likewise, there was another story involving wall-to-wall people. They waited. Elbows connected. Hands brushed against foreign fingers. Body odors intermingled in a transparent cloud of stench. Claustrophobic urges taunted the crowd. Nobody moved. An invalid lying on his mat possessed a passion for hope just inches away. His gaze glimpsed the eyes of Jesus. “Do you want to get well?” The miracle of the invalid at the pool of Bethesda impacted my entire life.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, Jesus Christ extended a healing touch that required faith. Would the invalid respond with haste? And why, out of all people was only one particular man signaled out, not the masses? The pool of Bethesda had a mighty, supernatural reputation. Those blind, the lame, and those paralyzed strategically had themselves positioned upon the banks of the water. They clutched to the only truth they knew; the first one in after an angel of the Lord stirred it would be restored. They sat mesmerized, expectant. They were people who anticipated opportunity.
The pool of Bethesda was unlike any other miracle Jesus Christ performed. There were many more people present in need of divine intervention, a healing touch – not just the one man. Jesus approached him. He surveyed the surroundings. He observed this man lying on his mat. Jesus learned that he had been an invalid for thirty-eight-years. Not only did he long for physical transformation, his disability screamed the severity of his plight without uttering a word. This invalid was desperate for help, dire attention. His focus wasn’t Jesus. No, his faith was in Bethesda – but the people kept cutting him off, getting in front of him.
I wondered if this invalid’s mentality hid behind cinder blocks. As years progressed, his heart must have become calloused. He must have stacked, constructed his own wall, block by block. Cold to the touch; rough around the edges; his defense mechanisms thick; he built for himself an embittered fortification of isolation. He frantically coveted change. And, he was so close to attaining it. The obstacles just stood in his way.
“Do you want to get well?” It has become the anthem for my life. Jesus has often whispered it since, reminding me. This question has revisited me on ocean sands, nudged me upon mountaintops, and accompanied me in the most random day-to-day scenarios. John was the only Gospel writer to describe the miracle at the pool of Bethesda. What did it mean to him that he would take the time to include it when Matthew, Mark, and Luke never make mention of it?
Jesus asked the most obvious question. He did not do anything until the invalid was struck by its simplicity, and then grappled over its complexity. Jesus demanded faith. At that precise moment, Bethesda faded into the background. Jesus stood in the foreground, inviting. He never requested that the invalid rid himself of his mat, either. No, he took his mat with him. I wrestled over if that was true of my brokenness, or even more so my convenient mats of reliance. What was I building? A wall of cinder blocks? Or, an unwavering trust?
Today, I stand on platforms proclaiming the Good News of Jesus, proselytizing the message of hope for people to get well. I never imagined motivational speaking as a ministry, a career. I never dreamed this miracle would revolutionize the purpose to my existence. It is where movie meets Scripture. Hearts get stirred when needed the most. If I trust, obey, and have faith – He will do His work. He will come. It may mean that I carry my mat with me. So be it. I can still walk, and thus be used. I choose to get well!