Just mentioning Jesus can get funny looks and rolled eyes. No sermonizing here, just my thoughts along with a few funny bits about healing.
I know, the title for this piece is off-putting. Just mentioning Jesus means that some people won’t read what you have to say. That’s okay, everyone needs different things.
Jesus was known more for walking around than for being a sermonizer. He was probably not church material and he would be uncomfortable in most of our churches because he was more used to being around prostitutes, sinners and addicts.
I felt this story is important because it is unexpected.
The short version of the story is this: Jesus heals a guy who did not ask for it and then tells him to take his yoga mat and go for a walk. The more detailed among us will want the whole scoop, so if that is not you, just skip the next paragraph.
If you want the full word for word story, see John 5:1-15. My take on the story is that the man spent most of his life (thirty-eight years) waiting for help.
Healthcare was not very good at the time, so people waited near a pool that would occasionally get touched by supernatural forces (aka, Angels). The first person to touch the angel-jacuzzied pool gets to be healed. (This makes me do a headscratch. Expecting sick people to race each other to see who can be first to touch the pool seems cruel. Maybe the point of the story that being sick can be habit forming… we will come to this later.) Jesus walks up to the man and asks him if he wants to get well. The man gives Jesus a couple of excuses and then Jesus tells him to get up, take his yoga mat with him and go for a walk.
Now that we are all back on the same paragraph, the story has six unexpected things (along with a few funny bits) about healing:
1. Healing is a personal thing. My almost-fifty body has some aches and a few creaks. (Sounds like a country song: “My Achy Creak.”) Sometimes my mind races and I get low and dark; and I hear a high pitched squeal all of the time. If I were to ask for help, it would look different than your what you might need. We each need something different and what we need can change over time.
2. Our bodies talk for us. The guy in the story did not ask for help verbally, but his body screamed for help. He was living where sick people go when they have nowhere else to go. Sometimes our bodies get fed up and ask for help even when we are stubborn. Depression can talk for us, so can other things like cancer, diabetes, addiction or weight gain. Our bodies talk, but paying attention is not easy.
3. We can get used to being sick. Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?” The guy immediately gets all nasty at Jesus, “Did you know there’s not enough help around here and I’m just too damned slow to get around?” Then Jesus heals him. I can relate to the man. When I am sick, I get cranky. I would like to think that I would just say “Yes” to that question, but I can’t judge the guy. Being ill for thirty eight years is a long time and it can become hard to imagine a life without pain.
4. Recovery may involve Yoga and walking. Jesus heals the guy, then says “Buddy, get up, take your mat with you and go for a walk.” As we get older, being flexible and just keeping our ability to move around is really important. Bending down, picking up something like a mat and then walking around can keep you healthy in the right places. You and I don’t have to change much if we want to get better, but if we don’t want to keep getting sick, we may have to change our lifestyle.
5. If you want to change your life, don’t go to church… go shopping instead. I read the story and I let my mind fast forward a little (I know, that is a dangerous thing). The guy goes for a walk and after walking for a while, he realizes he needs some new stuff: shoes, a water bottle, a sketchbook, a travel mug for coffee and a backpack to hold his stuff. I think it is interesting that Jesus didn’t tell him how to live his life or that he needed to go to church. Jesus told him just walk and you will figure out what you need to drop (or stop doing) and what you need to pick up.
6. If you need to hang onto something that makes you comfortable, go ahead. Sometimes our comfort item is a mat, a stuffed animal or a book. Other times it is a behavior or an addiction that we picked up along the way. It does not matter what you carry with you because it’s not about the mat. Healing needs to be worked into the inside and that may require yoga, a little massage, a lot of coffee and allowing ourselves to be loved.
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