Some things in life couldn’t be more straightforward. Spend less than you make, you’ll save money. Consume fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight. Read a little every day, you’ll finish the book. In situations like this, life can be as simple as a math equation.
But our relationship with God is not a math equation. God is God, and He does not always operate in accordance with our expectations. But I do believe that if you follow Him consistently, you will find yourself swimming in more miracles, signs and wonders than you ever knew existed.
It is going to take work. You are going to have to do this thing for a while in order to see life to the full. Sometimes you might look straight into the face of Jesus and not even realize who He is. Sometimes we get so stuck in trying our own methods of getting healed that we don’t believe Jesus could ever heal us. It’s like the man at the pool of Bethesda in the gospel of John.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (5:1–6, ESV)
First of all, 38 years is a long time. 38 years of wishing he could be free. When Jesus showed up, you would assume that He could have just healed this man. But that’s not what Jesus did. No. Jesus actually asked the man if he wanted to be healed! What in the world? Why would Jesus have done this? Who wouldn’t have wanted to find healing after thirty-eight years of suffering! Who would not want to enter into abundance and wild after living without it for so long? There was obviously a purpose for Jesus’s question. And I think the reason is this.
Maybe the man didn’t actually want to get well after all? Maybe he had grown so comfortable in his affliction that he wouldn’t know what to do if he were suddenly well? Maybe his identity was rooted in his affliction? I don’t know what his reasoning was. But I do know that so many times I have grown comfortable in my affliction. When I think about the anxiety I suffered with for so long until John helped me find freedom, I wonder if it had become such a part of my identity that maybe I didn’t want total freedom from it. I don’t know. All I do know is that Jesus asked this man to tell Him if he wanted freedom before simply giving it to him.
The story continues, “The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me’ ” (verse 7, ESV).
There you have it. When Jesus asked the man the question whether he wanted to be healed, the man did not immediately say yes! Lord have mercy. When I read that part of the story, I wish I were standing next to that man so I could answer for him. “Um . . . what he means, Jesus, is yes! Yes, he wants to be made well!”
Alas, the man didn’t have a friend next to him to help him out. All Jesus got was an excuse. I read this, and I think how many times I have made excuses for my half-abundant life instead of just stepping into the fullness God has for me. How many times has Jesus asked me if I want to be made well and I am so comfortable on my mat thinking it would take too much work to trust that God can heal me? This man gave Jesus an excuse! Oh friends. Jesus wants you to be well. He wants you to want to step into the fullness and abundance and wild He has for you. But we have to want it! We can’t just settle and endure whatever afflictions life throws at us. We must want a life of abundance in order to actually receive it.
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” (verses 8–9). Jesus told the man to rise. He did not bend down, pick him up, and stand him to his feet. No, Jesus told the man that he must pick himself up.
If I were him, I may still have had doubts. I mean, if I had been lying there for38 years waiting to be healed and then was told to stand up and walk, I would have some fear and doubt. It’s possible I could have been healed yet not been able to trust the healing enough to stand in it. How many times have we been given abundance and continued to sit in our half-abundant lives because we don’t trust what we’ve been given?
The only way to truly know is to stand up, pick up our mats and walk.
I know this is a scary proposition. We get so comfortable with our mediocre lives. We don’t want to be let down. We don’t want to stand up only to fall back down and realize we haven’t truly been healed. We don’t want to be disappointed. But I promise you—no, He promises you—get up, pick up your mat, leave half abundance behind and walk into total abundance.
Adapted from Enter Wild: Exchange a Mild and Mundane Faith for Life with an Uncontainable God. Copyright © 2020 by Carlos Whittaker. Used by permission of WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Carlos Whittaker is an author, speaker, worship leader, and self-professed hope dealer. He speaks at some of the largest churches in the country and at conferences including the Orange Conference, Catalyst, MomCon, and many others. A People’s Choice Award winner and host of a popular podcast, he is also the author of Moment Maker and Kill the Spider. Carlos lives with his wife, Heather, and their three children in Nashville.