I gasp across the entrance to home,
soul swirling with other people’s problems,
hoping for a momentary reprieve before I face my own.
The troubles of this world are so powerful some days, and I’m not a stupid person.
I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m full of God’s love, His Spirit, and His Word,
but the troubles seem relentless.
People get so beaten down. And Satan has never been a student of mercy. So, I arrive home depleted, defeated, spent, and overdrawn.
When I pray about it, God calls to my mind the four friends of the paralytic. You know the story, right? I don’t tell you anything new.
Jesus was teaching in a house crowded with people, so crowded that four friends had to dig a hole in the roof of the house to lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus. Jesus said that because of their faith, the man’s sins were forgiven and he was healed.
The unbelieving Pharisees got bent out of shape over this random granting of forgiveness – you know, since they had a whole economy built around selling animals that needed to be sacrificed for forgiveness – it wasn’t something people could normally access simply by dropping through a hole in the roof. Free-flow forgiveness would jeopardize their entire operation.
They tried to dampen the healing party, but Jesus just kept right on forgiving and healing in front of them while the paralyzed man became the man-who-was-formerly-paralyzed, and his friends rejoiced.
And each time God brought this story to my mind, I responded like a kid in middle school – “boring.” I yawn. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember the story. It’s nice.
Yeah, nice. Great fodder for children’s Sunday school. Makes a solid skit. Perfect for those four kids who can’t memorize lines, but need parts on children’s Sunday, but what has that got to do with the very real problem I’m praying about, Lord? We don’t cut holes in roofs where I live. I think that’s the wrong story for this particular problem.
I’m sort of stupid sometimes. Right in front of God.
Then, finally, when God brings the four friends to mind for the eighth or ninth time, I humor Him. (He’s clearly not going to let it go!) Fine. Fine. I’ll read the story. I’ll think about it. I’ll try to imagine real people, not some Sunday school flannel-graph version of this dramatic, public healing.
So, that’s what I do.
And I wait for some startling new answer to the very complicated problems facing me and so many people I love.
It starts to annoy me that we don’t know anything really, about these four friends. It appears to be just a very straightforward story about four friends doing everything they can to get their friend to Jesus.
That’s all we know about them. They care about their friend, and they get their friend to Jesus.
These four friends didn’t need to know how to treat their friend medically,
or how to diagnose him mentally,
or how to counsel him spiritually.
All they needed to know to do was to get him to Jesus.
Whew! I can do that.
I can get the people I love to Jesus. I can kneel before His throne, and speak their name, and tell Him how much they need Him. He’s clearly smarter than I am. He doesn’t need me to suggest solutions, or ask for exactly the right thing, or figure out the source of their problem, or whether they deserve to be rescued.
I just need to get them to Jesus. He’ll take it from there, thank you, very much.
If this seems a little simplistic to you, ask yourself who you’d rather be
– or one of the friends watching from the roof as Jesus transforms their faith into something that changes the life of their friend.
I have my answer. What’s yours? Can I cut a hole in the roof for you?
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) June 27, 2017