VISIBLE FAITH: TACKLING THE WALL
“In this way, their faith was visbile to Jesus” –Luke 5:20 (The Voice)
These words follow the story of four friends who are concerned for a sick friend. The friend is paralyzed and spends his time laying on a bedroll living a pretty helpless life. Things are about to change.
The friends hear Jesus is in town and that he has been bringing hope through his new teachings and his healing power. They decide to take their friend to Jesus with the hope that he can be healed.
When they arrive, the venue Jesus is speaking at is already overflowing with folks who are hanging on to his every word. They can’t get close enough to Jesus to ask for his help. How will their friend be healed?
At this point they could have given up and taken their friend home. But they were persistent. They had hope that Jesus would help their friend. They had to regroup and com up with a new plan.
The plan the four friends settle on is one that displays both their desperation and creativity. “We’ll tear a hole in the roof and lower our friend down to Jesus’ feet. There will be no way that Jesus can miss him.” They could have waited until the crowd dispersed, until the spectators broke for lunch, but their friend had suffered too long.
Jesus looks on the man and says, “My friend, all your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20) Not exactly what they were looking for but a nice surprise nonetheless. Then, after a short debate with the onlookers about Jesus’ credentials and authority to forgive sins. Jesus speaks to the man again. “I say, get up, take your mat, and go home.” (Luke 5:23)
The man was healed. Everyone who witnessed this event got more than they bargained for. Hope was thick in the air.
The four friends made their faith visible through persistence, creativity, and helped each other through community.
In my church, we’ve been exploring Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero. The crux of the book focuses on the idea that spiritual growth and maturity is only possible when emotional health is combined with contemplative spirituality, a life lived in the awareness of the ongoing presence of God. We’re about to explore the topic of “The Wall”. St. John of the Cross referred to The Wall as “The Dark Night of the Soul.” The Wall is a place where faith is stretched, where the old ways of looking at God and faith don’t seem to work anymore. Growth comes when we can “journey through the wall” as Scazerro puts it. It can be easy to retreat or lose hope when you hit the wall but I think that the story found in Luke 5 can offer some help when we aren’t sure how to move forward in the life with God.
Learn from the four friends. Don’t give up. There is a way through the wall, or the roof in their case. Hang on to hope by putting one foot in front of the other.
When the guys showed up to the party, they realized their plan wasn’t going to work. They began to look at the issue from different angles so they could find a way to Jesus. When you hit the wall, it will require new ways of looking at your life and God. Your best laid plans may not help but your openness to new approaches may help you find the way through.
The paralyzed man didn’t have to suffer alone. His friends were with him every step of the way. The four friends shared the load and helped the paralyzed man do what he couldn’t do for himself. Surrounding yourself with healthy community can help bring new perspectives and remind you that you are not alone.
May the four friends teach us to make our faith visible. And may we all make it through The Wall, whenever and wherever it presents itself, with persistence, creativity, and community.