August 3 Nahum 1,2,3; John 5
This is one of our SOAP notes from today’s reading…a very special encounter Tara had with the Spirit…”When I take the time to retell a story, He speaks in ways I can’t hear if I don’t slow down enough to engage all my senses like this. I hope it speaks to you.” ~Tara
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The Healer | Tara Wiley
S~ Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5:14 (NIV)
O/A~ (Today, I decided to really engage with this, one of my favorite stories. To feel, smell, taste, touch the event and let it linger with me. I rewrote it as an act of worship, letting the Spirit whisper to me as I wrote. It’s a powerful practice: you should try it sometime! If you decide to read my story here, I suggest you begin by first re-reading John 5:1-15)
View video HERE if unable to view below…
Blazing summer sun turned the rocky steps around the pool into brick ovens. The heat seared the sick man’s body as he lay waiting. He tried to shift, to find relief. He was too weak to rearrange his own limbs. Harsh winter winds whipped against his immobilized, shivering flesh. He longed for a blanket. He yearned for comfort. He found none. Season after season, year after year, he lay in wait for the waters to stir healing. Season after season, year after year, he cried out for help when the moment arrived. And season after season, year after year, the throng trampled around and over him in their selfish scramble to the pool.
Another opportunity missed.
Another disappointment realized.
Another reminder of his total inability to help himself.
A stranger walks up with a stirring pool in his eyes and asks him the most ridiculous question: Do you wish to get well (NASB)? In earlier years, perhaps, he’d have offered a sarcastic response: What do you think, Captain Obvious? Today, though, so weary, so alone, he looks into those swirling eyes and sees a man who actually wants to know. So he tells him his story, all thirty-eight years summed up in a painful synopsis of I want, but I can’t.
(Can you hear yourself in that statement? Can you hear Jesus asking for your story?
I want to lose weight, but I can’t stop overeating.
I want to overcome my temper, but my flashpoint hits and I see red and I can’t control myself.
I want to stop this habit. It’s killing me and destroying my relationships. But I can’t.
Can you see His offer that comes next as if He is speaking to you?)
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” And something in the man’s swirling eyes compels a trusting obedience as he reaches down with his strong right hand to clasp the weak man’s withered one. Up, he gets. Down, he reaches and with shocking strength, lifts his mat. And off.he.walks. I can see it now: a few timid steps, then a hop, then a leap! A race to –
And here we see the healed man’s heart. Where would I go, if I’d been an invalid for 38 years? Where does he go? Straight to the Temple to worship.
Because an encounter with the Healer always leads to praise.
He marches, skips, gallops, leaps right past the questioning religious leaders. He tosses them a simple answer to their petty questions: I’m doing what the Healer told me to do. (Am I? Am I doing what He’s told me to do, no matter what anyone else thinks? He’s healed me in more ways than I can count. What’s my response?)
He reaches the Temple. The place of worship he hasn’t seen in years. Tears blur his vision and he nearly trips over the money changers’ table at the entrance. The money changer! Oh no! He has nothing to offer as a sacrifice! Trembling, humbled, his mat still tucked under his arm, his steps begin to falter.
Now what? 38 wasted years. Nothing to show for them but this ratty old mat. What can he offer?
Still, his heart swells within him and he cannot turn back. He enters the outer courts with praise! The temple worship leaders are blowing the rams’ horns. The dancers are twirling with tambourines in their hands. The Sabbath throng are singing out the response (Psalm 118, a Psalm of Ascent): His lovingkindness is everlasting!
The leaders recite,
“You pushed me violently so that I was falling,
But the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
And He has become my salvation.
The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. (And with a jolt of lightning through his body, the healed man remembers that strong right hand. The right hand of the Lord. Who was that stranger?!)
The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
And the invalid-now-validated can hardly contain himself as he mouths the words with the reciter…
I will not die, but live,
And tell the works of the Lord.
The Lord has disciplined me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.
And he cannot hold back any longer: he SHOUTS with a voice that’s been a whisper for decades. He grabs the man closest to him and spins him around as he laughs out the words:
Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
The righteous will enter through it.
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,
And You have become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes –
Our eyes. Immediately the man thinks of those powerful eyes, swirling and stirring like the pool of Bethesda. The memory overcomes his ability to speak, to dance, to twirl, to move at all. He finds he must kneel, but the man he had grabbed to spin with will not let go of his hand.
And so he looks over, and to his amazement, he finds himself staring into those eyes. It is Him! The stranger!
“It’s… you,” he whispers, and he falls to his knees and weeps. The man does not stop his worship. Around him, he hears whispers and thinks they are ridiculing him, but he does not care. Then, the whispers begin to congeal into one word: Jesus. Jesus is here!He feels a rush of robes and sandals pressing in around him, and fights a painful flashback to his years of being trampled at the pool. He stands because he can now and discovers a crowd is beginning to gather around the very man who healed him. But Jesus only has eyes for him in this moment, those swirling eyes locking with his. He has something to say.
“See, you are well again. Stop sinning, or something worse will happen to you.” In the next moment, the crowd overcomes the pair and Jesus is whisked up to the Temple steps to teach. Jesus continues with the Psalm:
This is the day the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Every sound fades into the distance, save that voice. The very sun seems to fade in the brilliance of His presence. The smells of dust, manure, and blood drained from the sacrificial lambs seem to melt into an otherworldly nothingness. The healed man feels only the beating of his own heart, sees only those swirling eyes, and remembers only those words spoken with strength and gentleness and such love as he has never received before in his life. Yes, Jesus. I believe You are my salvation. You are now my Lord as well. So I will reorder my life for You. I will stop sinning for You. If You can heal my body, You can heal my spirit as well. Come, heal me. Fill me with the ability to form new habits. This new life stretches out in front of me and it is all unknown. Help me start and end each day with Your direction, because each day is a day You have made.
The sounds, sights, smells, and tastes of his surroundings return to the invalid-now-validated man’s awareness, and he settles himself to learn from his Healer, here in the Temple courts of praise.
P~ Lord, where do I begin! Oh You have met me here. I can hardly form a response. You want to hear my story, the one no one else hears. You listen, and You respond with the power to save. Yes, Lord! Hear me when I cry out to You, and lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2). And as You heal me, with new mercies every day, new healings every day, new baby neurons created in my brain every day for me to train into obedience to You, I can say, “I am a new creation! The old has gone, the new has come!” and enter into this new ministry of reconciliation today (2 Corinthians 5:17ff). Because this is the day You have made. I will respond with worship for all You have done, and beg for Your healing touch and presence to go forward with me into the minute by minute decisions I face. I know I will not be perfect in this day, but I thank You that You are doing Your perfecting work in me even now (Philippians 1:6). Your healing in my life is not just in that moment of salvation. It is in each day lived for You, each victory over my sinful nature, each fruit You bear in me. So I leap with the healed man and ask You to look into my eyes and hold me with Your right hand when I need help to overcome my sin. Thank You for Your mighty acts of healing. I will give thanks to the Lord, for You are good; Your lovingkindess is everlasting (Ps 118:29).
Note: The story in John 5 takes place during an unnamed festival. As the Spirit directed my writing, I turned to Psalm 118, not even considering that it is part of the Psalms of Ascent, a series of Psalms recited during a Jewish festival season. How cool is that?! Perhaps this very Psalm was being recited during this day in history.
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Posted on August 3, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Bible, Bible reading, Bible Study, daily devotions, discover one thing, discoveronething, discoveronething.com, John 5, life journal, Luke 10:42, Nahum 1, Nahum 2, Nahum 3, SOAP note. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.