It was a typical Friday evening. After our date, my boyfriend had left my house and I was winding down the day with my favorite pastime. Somewhere between the creases of faded pages and wrinkles and tears, my Bible began to speak life in a way that I’d never experienced before.
Resting in a comfortable position, I propped the Bible on my knees as my weak and weary heart bled. Through an exhausting week of state testing, observations, family stress, relationship struggles, and mental battles, my emotions matched the used pages of Scripture: worn but still fighting. In a heavy sigh, my mind felt done, but my heart prodded, “Seek my Word first.” With nothing left to give, I let His words begin to pour over and infatuate my soul. Skimming over the pages of John 5, it was as if someone had opened my eyes for the very first time.
Reading through the Bible numerous times, my mind couldn’t keep up as the Lord spoke and I merely listened. “Lord,” I prodded, “I need to write this down or I’ll forget the beautiful revelations,” I begged.
“No, you won’t,” He pushed back. “Just be still and rest in this moment.” And sure enough, I realized the next day that He was right and He was still speaking.
Searching for Help
Two years ago, I started experiencing physically and mentally impairing conditions that I frequently write about on my blog. In a culmination of these infirmities, my body and mind are often incapable of what they once were. Every day, I battle the past, present, and future, or what has been, what will be, and what will come. Most days, weak are my heart, intellect, and stature at the weight it takes to keep on breathing.
In John Chapter 5, Jesus meets an ill man just outside the pool of Bethsaida. Traveling to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews, Jesus saw a multitude of disabled people lying near this body of water. Making his way into the crowd, he saw a particular man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” – John 5:6-7
“Do you want to get well?” I heard the Holy Spirit prompt my heart.
“Of course,” my mind instantly replied.
“But do you really?” I felt him push me deeper, yet again.
The Source of Healing
What I find most shocking about this story is not that Jesus asked the disabled man if he wanted to be well, but that when asked, the man didn’t say “yes,” but began with, “I have no one to help me.” And while I’m tempted to reply to Jesus’ question to myself with “of course,” the reality is that we’re all masters at saying one thing, yet doing another.
“I want to be well, Lord, but I have IBS.”
“I want to be well, Lord, but my mind is a tangle of cobwebs and anxious threads.”
“I want to be well, Lord, but my physical health is killing me.”
“I want to be well, Lord, but I can’t make it to the pool.”
“I want to be well, Lord, but” seems to be our most significant answer.
In the TPT translation of verses five and six, the Scriptures read, “Do you believe you’re already whole” (Luke 5:6, TPT)? I ask that question of you and myself today: Do you genuinely believe that despite whatever physical, mental, emotional, or social illness you’re going through that Jesus has already made you complete, whole, full of all that you need? Jesus asked the disabled man if he was ready to abandon how he saw himself and now receive the faith of healing. The Greek phrase genesthai here is not future tense (“want to be healed”), but what the TPT calls an aorist middle infinitive that indicates something already accomplished (2 Corinthians 5:7; Luke 5:6, TPT).
Just as the man at the healing pool who’d been sick for thirty-eight years replied to Jesus’ inquiry with an excuse (vs.7), don’t we do the same? For over three decades, this man laid day after day at a pool waiting to be healed, the same amount of time that Israel wandered in the wilderness waiting for the Lord to provide and change their followed course with rest. Yet, when he found the source of an original pool and not a human-made one, everything changed.
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Jesus said to him. “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat” – Luke 5:8-10
I wonder, do we have the faith and belief amidst fear to not make excuses, but to pick up our mats (sickness, sins, burdens) and walk? We don’t need to lie down and wait anymore; healing is now, ready and waiting for us to believe.
Today, I don’t know about you, but I know that in my heart-to-heart confession with God, I question how long I’ve longed to be well from illness (physical and mental), but not had the strength to “pick up my mat and walk.” Do I have the ability to walk away from my “sleeping (resting) mat” because I no longer need to reside in my stagnancy but rejoice in the freedom I’ve already been given?
Examining my actions, I ask myself, “When did I stop fighting? When did I stop believing? When did I start accepting the lies in my head that appear like truth but only speak death over my soul?”
“Do you truly believe you’re already whole?” It’s less of a physical issue and more of a spiritual one. For the outer body will age, ill, and grow old, but the soul will reap great eternity (2 Cor. 5:1).
Rest in Christ
Jesus said to this man, “Stand up! Pick up your sleeping mat, and you will walk!” Immediately, he stood up – he was healed! So he rolled up his mat and walked again! The healed man took his sleeping (resting) mat with him, but the Jews said to him, “What are you doing? Don’t you know it’s the Sabbath? Don’t you know this is a day of rest?”
Weren’t they missing rest, Himself?
The Sabbath was meant to be a day of rest, but the healed man carried his Sabbath “rest” with him. The Sabbath is not only a day, but is also, in this context, a realm of rest that we carry in our hearts (Luke 5:9, TPT). Though the written Law forbade this particular action, the living Law (Jesus Christ) encouraged obedience to God no matter whether it followed the schedule, protocol, or guidelines or not.
Do we realize that the Sabbath is not merely a day of rest, but rest in the One who restores us? It’s not the Law or religion that makes us suitable, relaxed, and whole; it is a relationship with the One who was, who is, and who is to come that does that (Rev. 4:8b).
All my life, I’ve had trouble taking rest with me. Always on the go, I’ve found it easier to be busy than reach a place of stagnancy. My mind glues itself to thoughts, and not a second goes by that I’m not productive, thinking, writing, teaching, reading, or being active. I’ve lived with the mantra that I need to go, do something, and be productive, but rest (Sabbath-Shabbat) in Jesus produces a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7, ESV). It is not not doing anything, but it is placing the stressors that are all on you, instead, on Him.
Rest in Jesus, for both the invalid man and us today, is believing that we are already made whole (amid physicalities that make us feel like we are not) and that we do want to be well.
“Want to be well?” you might question. “Of course, I want to be well!” But do you really? Are you ready to leave this place of isolation, depression, and sickness, or has it become such a home that you can’t envision life any other way? Don’t allow Satan to rob you of that. Fight for it back.
Are you ready to be well? So much so, you will do anything to tell others that He’s who’s healed us (vs.15)?
See, you are well again…The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. – Luke 5:15-14
I’m done fighting the lies and battles in my mind because Jesus has already freed me. I am whole. You are safe. We are complete. Here’s my heart, Lord, speak what is true.
Although I do not know when I started believing all these lies that have tortured me day after day, this much I know is steadfast: I will live again, and I’m taking back the youth of life that has been stolen from me for far too long.
Don’t eat more, or your IBS will flare up, and you’ll be in more pain.
If I rest, I am lazy.
If I don’t feel well, something must be wrong with me. I’m getting sick. What if it’s COVID-19? What if I am relapsing into an eating disorder or orthorexia?
I do not know when I started believing these things or why or how long, but they are not valid. The things Satan is probably feeding you day after day most likely are not either. Because these words are condemning, hurtful, hoisted up on things of man. But God’s Word? God’s truth brings life. His words bring truth. Jesus says:
I am the way, the truth, the life – John 14:6
I’m not in obligation to a law or set of rules.
I’m in honor of and obedience to Christ alone.
I will no longer bow low to anything but Jesus. Help us. Help me, Lord!
I’ve been praying for quite some time now to have the fullness of life and joy, but I’ve forgotten that Jesus already gave that to me when I asked Him into my heart over two decades ago. He alone gives life. Stop living to death, Amber. Stop serving the clutch of dying, my sweet friend.
Later that night, as I drifted off to sleep in prayer, I was scared by words that appeared in my throat that I did not know. After reciting the names of loved ones in my mind, I said something to the extent of “Elohim [something I can’t remember] Shabbat.” “Is God speaking to me in tongues?” I thought. “What does this mean?”
Though I will not claim that interaction as the filling of the Holy Spirit or tongues with certainty, I will declare that God was and still is moving and speaking in me no matter that experience.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy!” I told my boyfriend in fear. “Mom, you’re never going to believe this,” I said over dinner.
“Not at all, Amber.” His calm voiced soothed anxiety through the telephone line.
“I just don’t know what it means?” I questioned days later.
“Elohim means God in Hebrew, and Shabbat means rest.” His answer was the confirmation I needed.
My God is rest.
“That’s so funny,” my mom began. “The show I was watching this morning that I never watch talked about demanding to be healed when we pray and not just ask. Demand to be whole. Demand to be well. Demand to find rest in Him.”
A New Identity
You are free, dear reader. You are whole. Do not be afraid; trust in God (John 14:1, ESV).
Just as we will someday rise to Heaven eternally, He’s given us life and freedom here on earth, here and now, and it’s time I start living it, breathing it, receiving it, preaching it, and sharing it. Do you want to be well, friend? I know I do.
I am whole.
I am well.
I am healed.
State it, breathe it, believe it, receive it.
Even if I’m never physically or mentally better, I will fight to try.
But for now?
I’m believing that I already am because I know the power of Christ in me shines brightest in the weakest moments. I’m picking up my mat walking, and I hope you’ll join me.