Do you want to get well? This is the question Jesus asked the crippled Man at the pool at the sheep gate in John 5. And it’s the question He asks us all.
Do you want to get well?
I’m still reading The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan and he dedicates an entire chapter to this question and story. He talks about restoration and renewal with the story of the crippled man by the pool.
What he wrote and this question stopped me dead in my tracks. 2019 ended with depression but 2020 began with the hope and joy I thought I had lost. In the last hours of 2019, I spent time with God, listening, and he brought scriptures to mind that restored me. Most were familiar, scriptures He has given me but he sent me to a new one this year. Ezekiel 36:26 speaks of being given a new heart and a soft one to replace the stony one. That became my prayer as the year ended and the new decade began. Lord, change me. Give me a new soft heart. Show me who I am in you.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
2019 brought an identity crisis of sorts as I wrestled with myself. Yes, I’m a daughter of the King, loved and fully known, chosen and precious in God’s sight. But how does that translate into my humanness? And with that new chapter, question, and verse from Ezekiel along with the prayer that it prompted, God showed me that my identity had become wrapped up in my trials and sufferings instead of in Jesus where it belonged.
Grateful for that perspective, I pondered that for a while. God brought to mind other times I have wondered what I would do if the struggles with Big Bro were resolved and if Hubby’s schedule changed so that we had a more normal home life. In essence- did I want to be made well?
The choice is this: be made well or keep the identity that the trials and suffering gives me.
The question is the same for you, my friend. Healing and restoration will change everything. It will change your identity. You have to want Jesus more than comfort. You have to desire the Lord over what’s normal.
If we are honest, that’s a hard question. I had to wrap my brain around it, and as I did, I began to grasp just how far reaching the ripples could be. It takes courage and trust in the Lord. Saying yes means you will let the Lord set your life right. It means relinquishing control and letting God lead. This will require obedience and following Him. It means finding a new normal and a new identity. It will be a paradigm shift in your mind.
Mark Buchanan writes that often times renewal and restoration is extended when the trial or the sickness has become the normal and the person has developed their life around their trouble. Then, God will step in and offer to redo everything. He will then ask us the question if we want to be well. Are we willing to leave everything we know and everything comfortable to live for Him? The quote that really made me stop and think is this:
“Sickness can actually steal the place of God. It can become the sick person’s center, the touchstone by which he defines himself. Illness is a tyrant with huge territorial ambitions. It is a seductress with large designs. It wants not only the sick person’s body. It wants his heart and mind also. It wants to be his all-consuming passion.”
-Mark Buchanan The Rest of God p150
For me, that was so convicting. God made my error so obvious to me but it was one that took years to develop. Sin is like that. It’s a slippery slope and it grows so slowly that we often don’t realize what’s happening until God, in His goodness and as an act of mercy, opens our eyes.
As I wrote last week, the Lord has challenged me to thankfulness in response to my year studying His goodness. He gave me a bigger picture though and the thankfulness will be part of my personal restoration. Only God could turn the despair I felt ending 2019 into anticipation beginning 2020. Maybe restoration is still years off. Maybe there’s still years of struggle and heartache I must go through. But what I do know is He has asked me if I want to get well.
We have to wait for God to open our eyes, though. I have struggled wanting to get well for a long time. I have struggled with wanting the trial to end and things to change. I have been begging God to heal me and the situation for years. He changed my heart in the process and opened my eyes in His timing. The delayed “yes” from God made this even sweeter. It wouldn’t have meant as much if He had said yes all those years ago. There was a purpose in the pain.
I am so excited that the Lord has brought this question to me. Through my trials and sufferings I have learned to trust Him and obey His leading. My answer to the question is a resounding Yes! Yes Lord I want to be made whole and well.
Will you answer the same?