I just wanted to get well soon, I hadn’t been this sick and tired in a quite some time. One day I had been feeling just fine and the next day BOOM! Some tiny microscopic bug had invaded the cells of my body and wreaked havoc with my gastrointestinal system.
As I was convalescing, I pondered the power of this awful microorganism to infect such misery. I couldn’t see it; it was invisible to the eye and yet it carried incredible power! As I read about this particular virus I learned it is highly contagious and the best defense is a good offense. Stay home and keep my germs to myself. Wash my hands thoroughly. Feed myself simple foods. Drink plenty of water so as to not become dehydrated.
Eventually, in the fullness of time my body did what it was designed to do, it healed.
In John Chapter five we come across a most interesting story and situation. Jesus is in Jerusalem and near the healing pool of Bethesda (the famous hospital is named for this very place mentioned in scripture). Here were a lot of very sick and disabled people and Jesus encounters a particular thirty-eight-year-old invalid. And when Jesus saw him, he does what Jesus is famous for doing, he asks him what may seem to be an obvious question. “Do you want to get well?” Duh Jesus, of course he wants to get well or he wouldn’t be there, right? But the lame man’s response was not, “You’re darn straight I do!” Or “Heck yeah!” His response was some lame (pun intended) excuse why he couldn’t get into the pool to get well. Then Jesus tells him to participate in the process, to take up his bed and walk.
He had to choose. He could stay where he was, stuck in his identity as an invalid. Or he could get well. And the same holds true with getting well spiritually, we have to choose to turn to God in our lives, of our own free will. Or we can stay stuck in our identity as sinners and therefore enemies of God. And although it is not at all what he wants for us, if we don’t choose to be in right relationship with him in our lives, he is not going to force us.
I have always been confused by these words in the Bible, “And God hardened Pharaoh’s (or some other person’s) heart.” It was unfathomable to me God would do that, until last Monday when it finally dawned on me. God doesn’t do it. Having a hard heart is a choice. Some people are never NOT going to be offended, angry or resentful at God. They simply just do not want him in their lives, much less to bow down to him as Lord (boss) of their lives. Here is the thing, the very idea of God hardens their hearts. Hearts aren’t made hard by God reaching down and turning them to stone. Hard hearts are something each one of us chooses or doesn’t choose to have. Either it’s our identity or it isn’t. Pharaoh’ heart became hard by refusing to trust in and obey God. Which never ends well. Pharaoh’s rejection of God to do things his own way brought suffering, pain and death to many innocent people. One man’s choice affects and infects so very many others. And when I have hardened my heart to God in my life, like a nasty contagious virus, it affects countless others, spreading along, invisible to the naked eye.
Josef Stalin’s daughter told a news reporter on his deathbed the communist leader died shaking his fist at heaven. Still mad at God, even after his hard heart had forced oppression on his people and ordered millions and millions of his own countrymen imprisoned and killed, in peacetime no less ! Bible tells us Pharaoh acted much in the same way.
Sin is similar to germs in that it is a microscopic bug capable of invading the minds and hearts of human beings wreaking havoc. As I ponder the power of the awful microorganism of sin (separation from God), it is clear this disease inflicts deep misery. As I read about this virus of the soul, I observe it is highly contagious and the best defense is good offense. Stay home (with God) and keep my sin to myself. Wash my heart and soul thoroughly with the blood of Jesus Christ. Feed myself on the bread of life which is Christ and the truth found in the Word of God. Drink plenty of Christ’s living water in the fellowship of believers so my spirit doesn’t become dehydrated and my heart hard.
Take up my bed and walk, by choosing God, turning from my sin in repentance and returning to God through his one and only Son Jesus Christ. And eventually, in the fullness of time, my soul will do what it was designed to do. Heal.
Get well soon and
Be joy filled always,