So, do you? Do you want to get well? I'm hoping I've left you enough time from the end of the last post to sufficiently wrestle with that question....do you want to get well?
Folks, there is something to this sole question that actually contains one of the main, if not THE main key to this whole dilemma. Do you want to get well? Let's break that question down a bit, shall we??? At one point in life I was taught to study Scripture one word at a time. Seriously. One word at a time. It is a life-changing way to look through the Bible because it takes the focus off of the big picture and draws you into something so intimate, simple and lovely. It takes off the pressure to read a whole chapter at a time or a whole book at a time and allows you to study just one verse or even just one phrase of a verse much more closely. When I choose to study Scripture like this, God opens up His Word to me in such vivid and amazing ways I wonder why I ever read it in larger chunks (although that is really good too). I truly believe if I read Scripture this way there is not one bit of the Bible I can't relate to in some way--God gets right to my soul this way. So, anyway, can we do that together here briefly with this question taken right from Scripture? Read that question over and over with me with your emphasis on one word above all the others each time. Like this:
DO you want to get well?
Do YOU want to get well?
Do you WANT to get well?
Do you want to GET well?
Do you want to get WELL?
You see, by placing specific emphasis on each of those words, it causes our mind to think in different ways about the same sentence. I could spend an entire day (if I had it) diving into this little 6 word question and finding an incredible amount of "meat" God had for me. Here's an abbreviated version...
DO: Well, do I? There are many times in life I'd LIKE to get well or I think I should get well or I hope that somebody makes me well and even times when I honestly don't really want to get well. The first step to getting better is admitting or recognizing I have a problem, right? So admitting I was in a place in my life (and specifically for me these past few weeks, a place in my spiritual life) that I knew I was not healthy was step number one. Step number two, however, required more action from me. I not only had to admit I was not healthy, but that I actually don't like being sick and I wanted to get better. So what about you? DO you want to get well?
YOU: I found myself facing this question head on--Do you want to get well or do you want others to do something for you to make you well? Our society is doing a wonderful job of making us feel like we are kings and queens who need to be put above all others and have life served to us on a silver platter. I bet there was something in my original post that even had you coming back for more because you thought, hoped, or expected me to just hand you some sort of profound answer to solve your problems. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but in order to find the healing I just found, YOU are actually going to have to do some work for yourself. Like I said in my first post--we can go searching for answers and encouragement and sympathy from our friends all we want but at some point we have to recognize that they really don't have solutions for us that are lasting. Only Jesus has that for us and He required me to search for what I wanted in order to get well. So what about you? So, do YOU want to do the work to get well or are you satisfied with living life sick?
WANT: It's funny to me that this society I mentioned above seems to appeal to the WANT in all of us (which we easily succumb to), but when the Bible asks us to do the same thing we throw our hands up in the air exclaiming we just couldn't do anything for ourselves because that would be so prideful! For Heaven's sake, aren't we supposed to be humble? : ) Yet here is Jesus speaking to this man's very core desire. It's as if Jesus was saying, "Do you WANT to get well, cripple man of 38 years? What do you really, really, really WANT because I think I have it for you and believe me, it's better than anything the world will offer you!" Our society is screaming at us phrases such as...Get what you want. Satisfy your desires. Be selfish. BUT when it comes to something of our faith we, for some reason, think we have to be counter-cultural. We couldn't possibly try to get something we actually WANT--even when what we WANT is the healthiest, most pure, and lovely thing God has for us...the abundant, free life He has promised us. I discovered over the past few weeks that what I WANT is what Jesus has for me--health--and I will selfishly do what I have to to get it. What about you? Do you want to get well?
GET: When I'm reading Scripture this way there always tends to be words my mind automatically skip over. From my experience, those are sometimes the very words that end up having the most meaning for me. So is the case with the word "get" here. Do you want to get well? If I am going to get my groceries, I have to go to the store and purchase them. If I am going to get an award, I would have had to have done something to deserve it. If I am going to get a good grade on a test, I would have to study hard and know the information. Point being--if I want to GET well, it requires action from me because it means it's not something I currently have, therefore, will have to get it from someone or something else. It means I'm going to have to go searching for it and then somehow purchase it or earn it or something in order to call it mine.
Because this health I was searching for was a spiritual health, I had a huge and blessed gift when I decided to finally pursue "getting" it. Do you know what it was? It was grace. Grace that said, "Really, Angie, the spiritual health you desire--the spiritual health you want--is pretty darn pricey. If you really want to get well you will have to pay for it with your life. (Wow.) But, I have GOOD news for you! Because you love Jesus Christ and have already chosen to follow Him, you can have this health for free. Yes, it still cost someone--you don't really GET anything for free in this world, but don't worry, Jesus paid the price for you. Why would He do that you wonder? Well, because first of all, He loves you, and second of all, because this spiritual health you are seeking, desiring, and wanting is exactly what He's always wanted you to have. He's so incredibly thrilled you are finally partaking of it since it's been there for you all along. What a glorious day this is!" So, what about you? Are you ready to go GET the health that He has for you?
WELL: When I feel physically sick I can certainly tell. I get fevers, a sore throat, aches, pains, or chills and I just want to lay around and sleep. I know I am sick...it's not normal, it's not good. When I am physically well I can tell that too. I can do the things I'm supposed to do--like take care of our kids, run to the grocery, go to church, take a walk, eat food, etc. I am active and typically a happy person. When it came to my spiritual health of late, I noticed the same things happening on a different level. I didn't want to read the Bible, I didn't want to sing the worship songs at church, and I didn't want to journal out my prayers. I quite literally wanted to sit on the couch and watch movies, tv, and "veg". My prayers became short and choppy thoughts instead of longer dwellings. They were frustrating and angry and very discouraging because I couldn't figure things out. I was agitated and hurting. If I was spiritually healthy I wouldn't have looked like that. I would be just like I am when I'm physically healthy--able to do what I'm supposed to do. Spiritually speaking, those things would include worshiping God, praying for others, loving the esteemed woman God has made me to be, praising Him for His Goodness, and ministering and/or serving others in order to build His Kingdom. I knew I was not healthy--I was sick.
Did I want to get back to that spiritual and life-giving health or was I okay with just watching tv every night? Well, to be honest, I was okay with the tv thing for a few days, but then it started to eat me alive. I just know this life is meant for more and it was driving me nuts that I didn't have the same passion and drive for living it as I knew I had had before deep down inside of me. Did I want to get WELL? Heck yes I did. What about you? Do you want to get well? Not just the kind of health that will tide you over till the next sickness, but the kind of health that will sustain you in the midst of any kind of sickness that could be thrown at you?
So, friends, that is just the beginning. The beginning question that MUST be asked before diving into what God allowed me to discover with Him and in Him these last few weeks--the beginning question that MUST be asked before diving into what God wants you to discover too. It has to be asked because if you can not answer that question with an honest, heart-felt, sincere YES!!!! then I doubt you will really get the full benefits of the health God is offering you. I would HIGHLY encourage you to not proceed further and stay right in your misery until you are are ready to say YES to Jesus' offer. The benefits of His "get well plan" will far surpass any other offers you will undoubtedly get along the journey, but it's not worth hearing or seeing His offer in front of you but not be able or willing to gobble it right up. Like I said, I stayed watching tv for a couple days too, ya know. Please understand I'm not trying to encourage everyone to stay pathetic in order to more greatly enjoy spiritual health in the end, but what I am saying is if you are going to get the blessings of the Lord's health on your life, they are only truly enjoyed when you have fully submitted yourself to the process of letting Him heal you instead of going into it half-heartedly.
If you are like me, when you are ready to talk to the Big Guy about getting well, it will be worth everything you will sacrifice to get it. And once you get it, you will look back at what you were clinging to and simply roll your eyes in disbelief you ever allowed yourself to stay there as long as you did. Just saying...
Stay tuned for more of my specific journey over the past few weeks. Undoubtedly your journey will be different than mine (unless you, too, have an 8 year old niece who just got re-diagnosed with cancer and an adoption of a little girl from Haiti that seems to be taking longer than you think it should, and perhaps a kindergartner who you are struggling to know what to do with as you try to balance letting her be a kid while also wanting her to do well in school), but I hope and truly think there are things I've learned that will cross the boundaries of specific situations and apply to whatever you are facing in life. I would love to share a bit of my discoveries with you in hopes this very thing would happen. Till next time...I'd love to hear your own thoughts about this very first and all important question we just devoured together. Feel free to submit a comment or get in touch with me on facebook, email, phone, or if you live close enough I'd love to talk face-to-face --if you remember how to communicate that way??? : )