Stuck : Caught or held in a position so you cannot move.
We get stuck all the time. We get stuck in rush hour traffic. We get stuck in dresses in dressing rooms. We get stuck with the check. We get stuck with crazy roommates. We get stuck at lame parties. We get stuck in commitments we wished we never made. We get stuck in bad relationships and bad habits. We get stuck in never should have been fashion trends. We get stuck on airplanes next to people with nasty body odor, obnoxious cackles and incessant bladder problems. We get stuck on blind dates with creepy people who drool and wanna makeout.
A few years ago….it was a rainy summer day in Bellingham, shocking, I know. And in an effort to keep my kids off street sold rydalin or from me locking them up in solitary confinement, I took them to the Fun Zone. The Fun Zone is this big warehouse full of bouncy houses and kids just run around and scream, sweat and jump while the parents sip coffee and surf the web. I went there with a good friend and we chatted for a few hours while our kids played. The place was a packed house that day because it was a rainy summer day. When we decided it was time to leave, I ran to the bathroom before gathering my kids. Now you have to understand as a mom that anytime you have to leave a place that is fun- getting your kids out the door seems as challenging as getting your grandma to do a marathon. So I was standing there facing the bouncy houses yelling for my kids. Behind me were all the tables and chairs of dads and moms watching their kids. I was yelling “Bella, Aidan… it’s time to go! Bella… Aidan…” They responded, “One more time mom! Just one more time down!” I agreed and then yelled “Ok one more time…..Now we need to go!!! Get down here!” Right then, I felt this tap on my shoulder, so I turned around. I deduced in seconds because I am that smart, that this girl worked there because she was wearing a Fun Zone shirt. Still waiting for my obedient children, this chic says to me
“Mam”…. I have learned that if anyone calls you mam, something is wrong! “Mam, ummm….Mam, your skirt is stuck in your underwear.” Pause. “mam, your skirt is stuck…” It hit me- oh my gosh, my worst nightmare! My knee length skirt was all the way tucked into my not so glamorous underwear and I had been standing for everyone to see all my goods for way too long. And when I say goods, I really mean my bads- the one area of my body that I would least like people to see. “Mam” – I turned around and hugged her and maybe held on too long- while I reached one hand behind myself and unstuck my underwear from my skirt. I crazily started laughing out of control because it was either that or cry. Let me tell you people-skirts are not meant to be stuck inside underwear! Sometimes in life we need someone to tap us on the shoulder and let us know our skirt is stuck inside our underwear and we see a story in the Bible in John 5 where just that happens….
Only it’s not a skirt and it’s not underwear…..
The story starts out that Jesus shows up at a pool party. There are these pools near a Sheep Gate- bahhhhh and people apparently hang out there. There aren’t beach balls, floatie toys, bikinis or mai tais. There are sick people, people without hope, people who have given up, people who are desperate:
3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 and they waited for the moving of the waters. From time to time an angel of the LORD would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
And Jesus walks into this sick people pool party! Jesus would because Jesus hangs with people no one else would. This place was called Bethesda which means house of mercy but the word in Hebrew and Aramaic can also mean shame or disgrace. This double meaning is interesting considering what takes place there. This place promised luck, hope or a chance at healing. So the broken and sick lined up like Bieber’s Beliebers waiting in line for a backstage pass.
This superstitious belief is nowhere to be found in the Bible, but is more of a local tradition people clung to. Most likely Jewish religious leaders would have had real issues with this belief. And I get that on many levels. I mean it seems like a cruel joke. What is this- the survival of healing the fittest? It’s like –hey everybody show up to a pool where the pro athletes runny noses are being healed, meanwhile people with gout and gonorrhea are writhing in pain. It is a place that promises the healthiest person is the one who most likely gets well. What a limited offer of help! And look who was about to stir the waters with some drive by healing…..
6 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?”
This word want is the word thélō, meaning to not only will something, but to also press on to action When you thelo, you more than want to get well, you purpose getting well. Jesus asks a piercing question. Do you want to get well? It is a question that asks a whole lot more questions. If you want to get well -are you acting like it? If you want to get well, why are you always focused on being sick? If you want to get well, why are you being so unhealthy?
7 “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.”
This guy actually doesn’t answer Jesus’ question. What is going on here? This man does not thelo to get well. He has given up trying. You can hear how defeated he is. You can hear how much he has thrown in the towel. You can hear his assumption to fail.
This guy was so stuck and like him, we also get stuck. We get stuck hyper focused on the one thing that will make us better. We get stuck thinking there is nothing we can do. We get stuck in the past. We get stuck blaming others. We get stuck in our own negativity. We get stuck comparing and that lands us in a major pity party. We get stuck in “someday”. We get stuck in the impossible.
We get stuck spiritually – thinking God won’t do anything about this because He hasn’t yet. We get stuck needing help and never asking. This guy needed help. In fact he had been waiting for it for 38 years and instead of utilizing the help standing in front of him- he chose to complain.
It’s one thing to get stuck in an elevator for a few minutes or with a horrible professor for a quarter, but it’s another thing to get stuck and stay there because of our own doing and see it ruining our lives. And that’s where many of us find ourselves. In order to see change in our lives we have to take risks and risk requires faith. This guy was stuck mostly because he was surviving. And God knew that so He ran into this man’s life and asked him “do you want to get well?” He does the same for you and I. Look at what Jesus does next…
8 … “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
I imagine the guy saying, “Uh….did you get the memo Jesus? I am sick. I don’t move. i am the guy that sits here. Pick up something and go somewhere. I don’t do that.” Jesus is letting him know: You will have to take a risk to get well. This man hadn’t moved in a lifetime- he could have stayed right there. In order to see change this guy had to move. Our minds say “No- don’t do it! This is a bad idea. This could end badly. You could fumble and trip. Just stay here. Here is safe. Here is what you know.” Jesus commands risk and risk commands faith. Trust me- Jesus says- Risk because you know I am here with you while you walk toward health.
9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
It is like Jesus says not someday, but right now! Yes, you have experienced things not going your way …don’t let that continue to inform what could be. What could be- is right now! Jesus healed him! Jesus did what this guy hoped the stirring waters would do for decades in an unexpected instant. Some say this man had no faith- I will argue this took faith. This man risked. He had to thelo. He had to do more than want- he had to move. He risked hoping. He risked leaving what he knew. He risked finding a new identity
outside of who he had been. He risked trusting in Jesus.
Stuck now unstuck.
God is a God who doesn’t want us to be a hamster on a wheel! He is a God who wants our hope to be bigger than our hopelessness! He is a God who wants us to see the possibilities rather than the impossibilities! He is a God who wants us to thrive not just survive! He is a God who wants us to walk out of ruts not sit in them! Sometimes it is like Jesus taps us on the shoulder and says– “hey your skirt is stuck in your underwear.” And boy I am glad He does!