Have you ever been stuck? I have.
One day I needed to get a cooler out of the garage. Because our automatic door opener wasn’t working, I had to lift the door using the metal handles. After opening the door I found the cooler, set it on the driveway, and reached up to pull the garage door down using the handles.
Unfortunately, I had pushed the door up too high. I couldn’t reach the handles even standing on my tippy toes. Without thinking I stuck all eight of my fingers into the lowest crack on the door and pulled down. As I pulled, the garage door straightened and the little crack in the door was no longer a little crack. All eight of my fingers were smashed. My fingers were in a vise and I could NOT pull them out. I was stuck and it hurt.
My heart was pounding like a drum along with the beat of my throbbing fingers. I tried to calm myself down and think. I can get out of this but how? Then I realized if I lifted my knee I could push the door up using my leg. I just needed to move the door a tiny bit to pull my flattened fingers out. It worked.
My fingers were flat as pennies. I watched them puff back up into shape. Then I had to get myself up the stairs into the kitchen. I opened the freezer door situated at the bottom of our fridge, plopped down on the floor and jammed both my hands into the ice. The cold provided relief.
I felt foolish. Why in the world did I do that? How am I going to tell my husband and boys what a ridiculous thing I did? Why did it take me so long to figure out how to get unstuck?
A few weeks later I read the story about Jesus healing the man at a pool called Besthesda in Jerusalem. This man had been an invalid for 38 years. He, along with other lame and paralyzed people hung out near this pool believing that when the water stirred up, if they could get in, they would be healed.
Now, this man was stuck!
“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?’ 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’” (Matthew 5:1-8, ESV) When I read this I thought, what a silly question, of course he wants to be healed. He had been stuck in that spot for a long time. When I was stuck in the garage door I unquestionably wanted to get unstuck.
But, it’s a great question (as Jesus' questions always are). His question caused me to wonder, Do I want to be healed in the many places in my life where I’m stuck? Not just physically, but relationally, emotionally, or mentally. Have I become comfortable staying in those stuck, yet familiar places? As perhaps the man at the pool had become. I knew my answer was yes. I have relationships that are stuck. It feels easier to stay stuck than go through the pain of working through difficult issues.
I fear change. Yet, I’m in the midst of many big changes in my life. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I struggle with the effort I know it will take to make changes and I fear the unknown outcomes. I risk living stuck.
I read a quote recently, “Most people would rather be certain they are miserable rather than risk being happy.” I get that. Perhaps the man at the pool felt this way too. He did not say “Yes, I want to be healed.” He made all sorts of excuses for why he couldn’t get into the pool. (I make excuses too before taking steps to get unstuck.)
I also find it interesting that Jesus didn’t wait for the man to say “Yes.” I imagine Jesus knew his heart or could read his mind. He knew the man longed for healing. He new he would have a better life. Then Jesus simply said, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” At once the man was healed. He took up his bed and walked.
The man in the story is an inspiration to me. It wasn’t a little step for him to pick up his mat and walk. He hadn’t done that for 38 years! But something in Jesus' words, eyes, voice, and spirit gave him the courage to do it. He knew he was healed. He obeyed Jesus and picked up his mat and walked. He was no longer stuck. Can you imagine?
If Jesus can heal a man who’s been disabled for 38 years, just think what He can do for you and me.
We are not meant to live “stuck”. That’s a painful place. Jesus can guide us out of those stuck places. Maybe we just need little adjustments, as I needed to move that garage door a tiny bit to find relief. Or, maybe we need to take some bigger steps of faith, like the man who picked up his mat and walked after not walking for almost four decades.
It’s never too late to get unstuck. It might take some work. It might feel uncomfortable or even painful, but the peace, joy and freedom that come with getting unstuck is worth the risk.
Questions to ponder:
1. In what areas of your life do you feel stuck?
2. Do you want to be healed in these areas?
3. What step of obedience do you need to take to start the journey of healing?
Jeannie Blackmer is a wife and mother to three boys. She’s authored three books, contributed content to more than 20 books, and written articles for a variety of magazines. She loves her family, chocolate, scuba diving and salt. She also loves hearing others stories and believes we need to be real to experience real community.