Healing by the Pool: What is Crooked Cannot be Straightened

Solomon said, “What is crooked cannot be straightened.” Jesus proved Solomon’s point with the miracle at the Pool of Bethesda. Miracles will always remain mysterious — perhaps none more so than the healing by the pool.

This pool bore no resemblance to pictures in resort promotions. This pool neared the Sheep Gate where sellers brought sheep, washing (probably in this pool), marketing and selling them for sacrifices at the temple. Sheep aren’t clean! Here human and animal smells and sounds mingled, swelling in volume during the Jewish festivals.

This pool, protectively surrounded by five covered colonnades, became a place of hope for many. Why?

Bent Eyelet

“Here a great number of disabled people used to lie
the blind, the lame, the paralyzed —
and they waited for the moving of the waters.
From time to time an angel of the Lord
would come down and stir up the waters.
The first one into the pool after each such disturbance
would be cured of whatever disease they had.”
John 5:3-5

Mercy and Grace

Bethesda means “kindness or mercy.” The number “five” represents “grace.” At the place called mercy and grace, the disabled, blind, lame, and paralyzed came hoping to find mercy and grace, where with mercy and grace God’s angel descended, making mercy and grace visible to all.

How many? How many waited and hoped? I can hardly imagine the sight, the weight of despair pressing against the odds of just maybe being the next one healed. It’s hard to maintain faith when disappointment comes often.

Bent Nail

I, too, am one who is crooked and cannot be straightened, in disabled condition. No, not outwardly, but inwardly. Disabled applies both morally and physically. Like them, I shelter under the colonnade of mercy and kindness, hoping and waiting. I, who am too often spiritually blind, unable to walk the Christian walk with strength, wait — paralyzed by my moral failures, unable to advance further.

They wait — hoping for an angel they can’t see, while missing the Messiah who stands among them.

Jesus Sees

Most people preferred to enter the grand city another way — a cleaner, quieter way. Jesus chooses this way. Here in the midst of the noise, the pain, the struggle, He comes. His eyes focus on one man.

What makes this man special that Jesus notices him above the massive throng? What make this man worthy of receiving?

Nothing!

“When Jesus saw him lying there and
learned that he had been in this condition for a long time,
he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ “
John 5:6

Rusty Bend Metal

Jesus asks questions so we will see and understand; He already knows the answer. The man’s response seems honest enough. But is it?

” ‘Sir,’ the invalid replied,
‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred.
While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’
John 5:7

The answer to Jesus’ question should be, “yes,” or “no.” He, like me, choses to blame other people’s negligence for his present circumstance. For thirty-eight years, he suffered. For thirty-eight years, he depended on others., hoping someone would get him out of his predicament.

It’s all too easy to grow comfortable, even in our dysfunction, our disability, blindness, lameness and paralysis. Too easy to excuse or justify our “crooked and cannot be straightened” condition.

Cannot be Straightened

“What is crooked cannot be straightened,
what is lacking cannot be counted.”
Ecclesiastes 1:15

I’m told that when metal becomes bent, it cannot be straightened. It might look straight, and even function like it has been straightened, but bending causes the molecular structure to change, weakening the metal forever. Only one option remains for restoration — the complete remelting and remolding of the metal.

Casting Metal

In spite of the man’s moral and physical inadequacies, Jesus still comes with mercy and grace.

“Then Jesus said to him,
Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ “
John 5:8

Miraculously, the man does! In taking responsibility for himself, he obeys Jesus and walks away almost whole. Almost? Yes, almost!

A Matter of Heart

“Later Jesus found him
at the temple and said to him,
‘See, you are made well again.
Stop sinning or something
worse may happen to you.’ “
John 5:14

Jesus sought this man out again, and “found him.” More critical than a physical healing, Jesus desired a heart change for this man.

What was the sin he committed “at the temple,” in church? We aren’t told details; perhaps, because God wants us to see our own reflection here.

How great has Jesus extended mercy and grace to us, at the Sheep Gate, in our messiest condition? How often has He sought us, challenging our wayward thoughts and actions? Or offered warning or reprimand? How often has He asked for our devotion? How often have we refused?

“The man went away and told the Jewish leaders
that it was Jesus who had made him well.”
John 5:15

With body whole and heart hardened, the healed man turns traitor and reports Jesus to those who wish Him dead. We all either turn toward or away. There’s no in between!

We would hope for a better response — perhaps gratitude, worship or reverence.

The Melting

Without the melting of hearts toward Jesus, we, too, will be forever bent, left in a weakened, volatile state. Without the melting of my heart, I cannot be straightened. No one can!

Oh, how imperative the constant cry of my heart, “Melt me, Lord! Make me new! Remove the “churchy” appearance of looking good, surface healings and half-hearted walking. Lord, I desire the full deal, the real deal, the melting, remaking, painful, messy, recreating. Don’t let me settle for second best, almost complete, when the greatest miracle stands before me — a pure and upright heart.”

Pure Gold

The healing at the pool comes as a tragic reminder of humanities failure to recognize Christ Jesus in the face of His great mercy and grace. He comes to find us, to seek us out, again and again, welcoming all to come to Him wholly and fully.

How many more worthy were among the disabled throng that day? How many little children needed a miracle? Was there none at the pool deserving of mercy? No! No one is worthy; none deserve His blessing.

The essence of mercy reaches to the unworthy and undeserving. Jesus chose the least worthy to display His love and grace, then and now.

Oh, the hope for us all! The hope in knowing God hears our pathetic cry and changes hearts. It’s Who He is! It’s what He does — how He loves.

Only in Him will that which cannot be straightened be made completely new and whole.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust In The Lord With All Your Heart

What does it mean to “trust in the Lord with all your heart?” These seven little words may take a life time to accomplish. Why? Because they require moment-by-moment, day-by-day, surrender — all encompassing surrender.

The problem started for us all in the Garden of Eden a long time ago. Self-reliance began the unceasing battle against surrender. Since that time, every individual has witnessed this relentless war. Even the youngest of us asserts, “I can do it myself.” 

Positive determination has produced amazing results. It has led mankind to explore, invent, engineer, create and break preconceived limitations. Through this compulsion we have

stood on mountains,
walked in space,
explored ocean depths,
developed cures,
conquered fears,
and challenged the impossible.

But such exploits have also created an over confidence in our own ability, ingenuity or intelligence. So how do we turn about face and kneel before the Lord God, Creator and Sustainer of all?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on
your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5

Jenna Loveridge Photography

Trust

As a mother, I find it uncomfortable to watch a young child being thrust into the air by its father. The child may scream in fear, while simultaneously delighting in the game of dangerous reliance of its father. The father trusts in his own strength to catch the child. However, the child trusts in the father’s loving character to not allow it to fall.

Sometimes, I honestly feel like that little child tossed skyward by my Heavenly Father — gasping for air and screaming. Not always in delight! Usually, I’m not wanting more!

Trust conveys a sense of security or calm assurance.

“May the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace
as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow
with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

Such explicit trust, of necessity, requires that we know the One we are trusting in. Do I trust Him as the God of all hope? Do I know Him to be trustworthy? Or do I question His character and His love for me?

How I perceive God’s character will ultimately determine my level of trust in Him.

The LORD

The name for God used here is “Yahweh” — “I AM.”

“God said to Moses,
I AM WHO I AM.’…”
Exodus 3:14

Perhaps it takes so long to trust God, because it takes time to understand who He is. Self reliance declares, “Trust only yourself.” However, history has shown how faulty that reasoning is!

By reading the bible, we begin to develop insight into God’s nature. Experience also teaches us that He is completely trustworthy. His character is constant and good — indescribably good.

God
eternal, self-existent,
omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient,
Alpha and Omega, without beginning or end,
independent and unchanging,
absolute truth, beauty and goodness.

Jenna Loveridge Photography

The more we come to accurately know God for who He truly is, the more we sense the security and calm assurance that comes with trusting Him.

“Those who know your name
trust in you, for you, LORD,
have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 9:10

Can we trust God when our prayer seems to go unanswered? Can we trust Him when He appears distant even though we needed His Presence? How can we trust Him when His ways are so much different than ours?

These are honest questions. The only honest answer is, “Yes!” Yes, because His love never fails. Yes, because He is immeasurable good. Yahweh is redemptive in all He does. He remains trustworthy.

With All

If seven words present a problem, seven letters create an even bigger one — “with all.”  Perhaps, we can trust God “with a little”. We might even trust Him “with some.” But “with all?”  Now that’s different. And difficult!

Dare I trust Him with

my family and relationships,
finances and possession,
dreams and desires,
restoring my past or securing my future,
providing not just what is good,
but the absolute best?

It has been over 40 years since in hopelessness I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. With faltering prayer, I simply said, “Lord, I have nothing worth giving you. But if you want me, I am Yours. Take the broken pieces. I give them all to You.” With that, I gave Jesus “all.”

Amazingly enough He took me up on the offer. He still holds me to it!

Through the years, God has been persuading me about the inclusively of “all.” Some things I have clung too resistantly. Other things, I have gladly tossed His way. “With all” really does mean everything. God cannot be Lord, if He is only lord of some. Lordship encompasses “all.”

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfact,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD himself,
is the Rock eternal.”
Isaiah 26:3-4

Yet with such yielding comes peace — “perfect peace.”

Heart

The heart signifies the centre — the core of all feelings, will, and intellect. The heart makes me, me and you, you. It determines our values, how we perceive the world around us and  how we respond to others. The heart is the central part that makes every aspect of our lives “tick.”

The human heart is made up of many chambers. So is our heart of hearts. Trusting Him must flow through “all” the centre of our being.

“I will say of the LORD,
“He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalms 91:2

Do we foolishly think we can trust our feelings above His goodness? Are we in any way resistant to surrendering our will? In what ways do we believe we know better than God? Writing these question makes them sound unreasonable. Perhaps because they are.

Yet, in my littleness, I cling to them with childlike determination. God pulls at my small hand with persistence, wanting my little, so He can grant me His big more.

Trusting in oneself “with all your heart” proves futile. On the other hand, “trust(ing) the Lord with all your heart” brings his security and calm assurance.

Blessings

Many promises await fulfillment as we trust the Lord — in everything and with everything.

“But blessed is the one
who
trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree
planted by the w
ater
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Trust and blessing co-exist — inseparably bound together. As fragile as our trust might seem, it powerfully links us to innumerable benefits. The security and calm confidence derived from trusting in the Lord replaces fear and worry. Trusting God demolishes the vulnerability of uncertainty.

So today, I trust again, afresh and more fully. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, I choose totrust in the Lord with all (my) heart.”

God faithfully invites me closer, while creating new opportunities to trust. He also rewards my efforts to trust with confidence.

**********

Setting the Goal of Love – Hit the Target!

Focus

My father taught me how to drive a vehicle. He showed me how to target my gaze far down the road while scanning closer sections to avoid upcoming hazards. Good advice for driving and living!

This past Sunday our pastor stressed the importance of setting goals. Apparently those who do:

  • achieve more
  • tend to flourish in those areas
  • find more meaning and greater significance in their life
  • feel better about who they are and where they are going

His words were still fresh in my mind as I read,

 “… The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
T
he second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

Jesus sets our goal. In fact, there is no greater focal point or personal life target!

Goal

My older brother and I would often head off into the bush on the farm where we lived and craft ourselves bows and arrows out of a fresh-cut willow and an old piece of baler twine. Rarely did they shoot as far or as straight as we had anticipated. Targets were difficult to hit!

I often miss the target to love the Lord fully and love others genuinely. What does God mean to love in this way?

Affection

“…with all your heart…”

Affection is loving with tenderness, devotion, caring and strong sense of attachment. It also includes friendship, fondness and generally liking someone.

Sometimes when there is slight rift in our marriage one of us might say, “I love you, but I don’t like you right now!” Though this little phrase may serve to lighten the atmosphere, it really is an oxymoron. To love with all our heart opens our eyes to see people through God’s eyes.

Target Affection

To love God with “all my heart” is to love with undivided affection even

when I don’t understand the battle
knowing He promises victory:
and when death steals
but He is the Life-Giver;
when all doors are locked
but He could make the way.
To love when confusions invade and doubts soar!
To love with all my heart!

Emotion

“…with all your soul…”

When it comes to emotional honesty, our grand-daughter “A” takes the award! Whatever her current status, she is all in! You don’t need to guess what she is feeling at any particular moment. “A” feels and communicates her emotions transparently. Always!

Target Emotion

To love God with all our soul requires emotional honesty. To give Him, with childlike fullness, the truth in how we are feeling.

The Lord is big enough to handle our anger or confusion. He never asks us to contain our enthusiasm or repress our delight. Our relationship with Him is solid! He is neither frightened or repelled by great fluxes of emotion.

We are made in God’s image. He experiences a wide spectrum of emotion including:

God’s love and faithfulness is steadfast.

Attention

To hit any target, or reach a goal, it requires our full attention.

“…The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord…
with all your mind…”

I am woman! My mind is never on one thought! Men have “box” perspective, an incredible attribute of being able to fully focus on one thing, or even nothing at all. I find this amazing if not  completely unbelievable.

Male or female, to love God completely is to focus all our attention on Him alone!

Target Attention

A cheetah is the fastest animal on land, but it cannot maintain those speeds long. He fixes his gaze completely on the target with relentless focus. His life depends on it! His family’s lives depends on it!

My world is full of distractions screaming for immediate attention. It takes concentrated effort to turn the volume off, close the doors and pull the blinds to attention grabbers. Not just because I am female, but because I am human!

Nothing is more important, than time with God! No one is more deserving than my undivided attention!

My spiritual life and the lives of others depends on my ability to love the Lord so fully that distractions do not pull me away. It really is that critical!

Ability

“…with all your strength…”

To love the Lord with all my strength is simply giving back to him and others every ability and talent He has given me. In some areas, I am stronger than others. Even my yielded weakness in Christ produces incredible results.

Even my yielded weakness in Christ produces incredible results. Click To Tweet

Target Ability

Foolishly, I am often unwilling to tackle areas of personal strength because I don’t want to appear better than others. Sometimes I am reluctant to engage in areas where I know I am weak, not wanting to embarrass myself. Either way, I am not loving fully. To love God with all my strength, is to completely engage in life. To be fully me – the way He created me!

The Target

Setting a goal to love is like focusing on a target beyond all human possibility. Nevertheless, it is what we aim for! Like my brother and I during our childhood play in my father’s pastures, I pick up whatever pieces I can find, fashion a bow and arrows and aim.

One day I will shoot straight and with strength to hit the target of love!

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You are welcome the growing tribe of followers here!

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More reading? Try this:

Mercy, Peace and Love – Jude Contending for the Faith!

Family Motto – Do You Have One?