“Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!”
Isaiah 60:1 AMPC
“Rise and Shine!” my mum would shout as she opened the curtains in my bedroom each morning. In her attempt to blind me with the brightness of the South African sun, she thought that it might force some light into my heart as well.
I did not want to rise. Ordering me to rise was one thing, but shining? She must be ridiculous! I hadn’t taken my Prozac yet and even then, she was putting way too much pressure on me. Shining were for morning people and cheerleaders, not for grumpy teens going through an identity crisis.
The crisis never really ended with my teenage years either. I carried the crisis far into marriage and motherhood. Completely sold on the lie that this is how life will always be. It didn’t matter how bright the sun was shining outside, on the inside I felt the darkness overshadowing my heart and mind, relentlessly.
Maybe this is why I could feel the frustration of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda (see John 5). He had been lying there for 38 years; that was nearly the same amount of time that I had been fighting my own demons. Year in and year out. Always hoping for release, never quite making it to freedom and wholeness.
As I lived through his encounter with Jesus, I could deeply empathise with his struggle. Always looking externally, for a miracle cure to what feels like an incurable disease. An angel that would stir the waters for him. A pill or a therapy for me. Anything that would make me able to get free from my torment. Both of us unable to help ourselves. Both of us finding no help from the outside either.
But then he locked eyes with Jesus, and Jesus made three life-transforming statements to him:
“Do you want to get well?”
Jesus! How can you ask him that? He is lame! Of course he wants to be well. Wouldn’t you get defensive if you were struggling and someone asked you if you wanted to be better. Maybe that’s why he felt that he needed to make an excuse for why he had been lying there so long.
My excuses were valid too. From genetics to circumstances, my reasons for being stuck in my brokenness was legitimate. But Jesus looked and asked me: “Do you really want to be well?” Answering that question was an illuminating experience; of course I wanted to be well, but I also wanted a shortcut. I wanted my miracle cure. I wanted some shiny fruit on my branches, but I wasn’t really up for pulling up the roots that weren’t producing them.
The original text states that Jesus did not only asked the lame man if he wanted physical healing, but the original word for “well” implies so much more. Jesus offered wholeness. To be made whole. It was so much more than just to be able to walk. It was complete restoration in body, soul and spirit.
I can imagine that after years of being overlooked and mistreated, the lame man had more brokenness in his heart than in his body. Often times our physical condition will come into alignment once we confront and deal with the brokenness in our hearts.
“Rise, take up your bed, and walk.”
The lame man became whole as Jesus spoke the Word. He immediately were able to get up and pick up his bed and walk! No angel stirring a pool. After 38 years of suffering and injustice, one Word from God empowered him to do, what he had never been able to do. The Word became alive and active in the lame man that day. And as I put myself in his shoes, I realised that the Word is not given just for instruction, but also for empowerment.
It was time to roll up the past, roll up the excuses, roll up the self-pity and walk! Walking, in it’s original context here, does not just imply a stroll down the road. It is a very rich word with several meanings. It means to live. It means to conduct one’s self. It means to follow. It means to make progress. To make due use of opportunities.
Wow! There is so much packed into that little word: walk. The bottom line is that God does not mean for us to just make it through our life, but to really live. And this is not a once in a life time miracle moment, but a daily choice to follow him and to take hold of every blessing he makes available to us. We are not just to walk, but to shine while we walk!
“Go and sin no more.”
Is it just my eye that twitches whenever I read Jesus saying that? Erm, Jesus, I’m not sure I can sign up to that! Bit of a big expectation, if you ask me. And by the way, didn’t you just tell that guy to pick up his mat on the Sabbath? Surely, he was breaking the law (a.k.a. sinning) when he did that? Just ask the paparazzi that were watching the whole debacle.
But Jesus did not demand a perfect walk. As I had a peek into the original meaning of the word “sin”, I discovered a much deeper meaning here than keeping up with a list of ten “thou shall nots”! Apart from violating God’s law, the word “sin” also means to wander off the path of uprightness and honour. Not just to do wrong but to go wrong.
You see, I believe that God has marked out our path, before we ever set foot on the Earth. There is a good, pleasing and perfect path designed for us, but we often choose to go our own way. As I choose to walk the path that God has set before me, my sins will fall by the wayside. Brokenness become wholeness in the process of walking along his path.
Today, I am locking eyes with Jesus. Yes, Lord, I want to be whole! I choose to roll up my failures and let go of my need for a short cut to wholeness and freedom. I will wholeheartedly follow you down the path you have set before me. Because it is a good path. One that will lead to you good, pleasing and perfect will for my life!
I can see Jesus smiling at me as I get up from my dusty little mat. I can hear him say: “Let go and let’s go!”
It’s time to rise and shine!
Today, I hear the Father shout: “Glorious Child! There are so many wonderful blessings and treasures for you to discover on the path that I have marked out for you. This path is not meant to be cumbersome or tiring, but full of life, joy and peace. As you let go of your burdens, you will find the road smooth beneath your feet. I will never leave or forsake you, so do not fear the journey ahead. There is only more life to gain, life more abundantly. And in the walking you will start to shine, like you were always meant to. Because that’s what I ordained for you from the very beginning: to rise and shine!” ❤