There are some people who fall, but get right back up again. Then, there are others who fall, but have a harder time getting up. Sometimes it’s not what people have said about you that keeps you down, but what you think about yourself that keeps you down.
In John 5, the writer tells us of a sheep market or gate in Jerusalem. Sheep were led through this gate to the temple where they were sacrificed. The sins of the people were placed upon the sheep to cleanse them of their sins, but right next to the gate was a pool, called Bethesda, filled with a lot of people – a great multitude – who needed to be cleansed of their sicknesses. They were impotent, blind, halt and withered. Some of them became a burden to others because they had to be carried, lifted and transported from one place to another. These people were overlooked, forgotten, abandoned and rejected. No one wanted them while they were not well. Where were their families? Where were their friends?
But Jesus was there.
One of the people lying at the pool was a man who had an infirmity for thirty eight years. The scriptures didn’t tell us that he had been this way since birth, but thirty eight years was too long. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Jesus knew how long he had been in that condition and asked him if he wanted to be made whole. The man told Jesus, Sir, I have no man to put me in the pool (John 5:7). Not only was he waiting for the move of the water, but he was waiting on someone to carry him into the pool. He sounded helpless, but he also sounded like he was blaming others for his current state. If someone would have put me in the pool, I wouldn’t be here. I’m still sick because of them. It’s their fault. But Jesus never asked this man about other people. He asked a question so that the man may examine himself, not others.
Jesus didn’t say it to this man, but I believe He is telling a lot of us this: You could have been up a long time ago. In fact, you should have been walking by now. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe God will carry you, but at some point He wants you to learn how to walk. He wants you to grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop thinking everyone is against you. Stop regretting what happened. Stop living in the past.
Sometimes, just like this man, we’re waiting on a person. We’re waiting on someone to do what God says we can do. We’re waiting on the pastor to do it. We’re waiting until the wife comes or the husband comes and then we’ll do. We’re waiting until the money comes and then we’ll give. Why don’t you give what you have now? Why don’t you do what God has told you to do now? If you’re not doing anything with little, why would God trust you with much?
Jesus didn’t take him by the hand and lift him up like Peter with the man who was lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:7). Instead, He gave him a word. Rise, take up your bed, and walk (John 5:8). The impotent man believed he would receive his healing through the water, but he received it through the word. God doesn’t always heal or perform miracles the way we think. We expect Him to do it one way, but He may do it another way. What I want you to understand is this: Jesus told him to do something, the man did it and he was immediately made whole. This man literally walked in obedience and in faith. Had he not obeyed the word, he would have never received his healing. No one had to carry him anymore.
I can be so hard on myself. Sometimes I beat myself up like a drum. Seriously. But falling doesn’t mean failure. I’m learning now that had I not fallen, I would have never learned how to walk. For the last few months, I’ve been praying Psalm 51:10. Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. I’ve also been asking the Holy Spirit to help me move on and let go of things (and people). Will the enemy remind you of things you did to someone or things someone did to you? Yes, but every day I am choosing to forgive – and that includes myself. Jesus has already made me free (Galatians 5:1), but now I must choose to walk in that freedom. It’s a choice.
You will recover from where you have fallen. You are going to make it. Time is too precious. Don’t spend another moment living in regret, worry or anger. This man walked for the first time in thirty eight years – and so can you! It doesn’t matter how many times you have fallen. You’ve been lying there long enough. Rise again. Take up your ‘bed’. Don’t use excuses anymore. Don’t blame anyone for what happened to you…and walk.
For though I fall, I will rise again (Micah 7:8).