Let’s Pick Up Our Mats And Walk

The first notes of the song outside the living room window told me that light was coming into the world, just beginning to lift the surrounding darkness.
The dawn of a new day, even though the old day still seems to be following us around.
The caroling bird wasn’t going to wait for all the darkness to depart.
The caroling bird wasn’t going to wait until every last ray of sunshine had come into the world.
The caroling bird wasn’t going to wait until it was absolutely proven that sunrise had begun.
The caroling bird was just going to sing.
Out on its limb of faith.
Nothing else to do but just fill the air with a song of joy.
The sky was still nearly completely dark, even to the east, and totally dark in every other direction of the compass.
But that bird didn’t need to touch the wounds. That bird didn’t need to feel the scars. The bird didn’t need to continue plumbing the depths of the darkness which had surrounded it since the light left the world the day before.
That bird simply believed.
“Do you,” Jesus asked the man who had been ill for 38 years, “want to be made well?”
The answer to that question means everything. Absolutely everything is at stake.
What are we going to say?
How are we going to answer the question?
What are we going to tell Jesus?
We’ve got to really want to sing.
We’ve got to really want to shout out joyfully into the darkness.
We’ve got to really want to believe in that sliver of light coming toward us, that thin wedge of something so much better.
“Sir,” the man tells Jesus, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.”
Jesus seems to know that the man had grown too comfortable with his suffering. Why else would he ask the man if he really wanted to be made well?
Jesus seems to know that the man had become perhaps a little addicted to, dependent upon, his illness.
That is why he asked the question.
And sometimes the same thing can happen to us. We grow too comfortable with a certain sadness, a certain pain in our lives—however real and painful it truly is. Sometimes we can allow a certain pain and sadness to become a crutch.
The man probably could have made it into the pool in time for the stirring water to heal him at least once in the course of 38 years. That’s just common sense. Jesus knows that.
But Jesus also knows that the man really does need his healing touch to turn his heart around from the illness that afflicted him toward restoration of full life.
Just as we really do. Of course we want to be made well. But sometimes there is a corner of our heart that won’t let go of the sadness or the pain or the affliction. A final step we haven’t been able to take on the journey to healing—not necessarily a cure, but being healed on Earth until heaven can finally cure us entirely. And that is the corner of our heart that makes all the difference. That is the corner Jesus can touch and make us well.
But we have to want it.
“Stand up, take your mat and walk,” Jesus tells the man.
“Stand up, take your mat and walk,” Jesus tells us.
Sing with a joyful heart at the crack of dawn rising inside you.
Let us all sing with a caroling heart of joy at the crack of dawn that is rising inside us.
We all know this new day is coming. We all know the new day is here.
Like the bird, perhaps we, too, can change some part of the world by singing our own song into the darkness.

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