Parish News : June 2022

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Jesus said to the man who had been crippled for 38 years: ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ This man had been limited to the dimensions of that mat for so many years that he had probably become very used to it. We don’t know how often he’s been at that pool, but clearly his case is a hopeless one. He doesn’t have the strength to get to the front of the queue, to be able to go in the water when it’s first stirred up. Imagine him sitting on his mat, begging, while people stream past him – perhaps not even paying him any attention because he’s been there so often. Because this man’s existence was stuck on that mat – his world was limited to that small area – he couldn’t go and explore the wider area, like others could.

As soon as Jesus said to him, "Stand up, take your mat and walk." the man was made well, and he did indeed take up his mat and begin to walk. The one whom nobody held out any hope for is totally transformed – all restrictions on him are swept away by Jesus – far more than he could ever have hoped for or imagined. And in that moment Jesus powerfully transforms not only that one man’s life, but his actions speak also to the huge crowd that were there on that day.

Thinking of this man, and how his life was transformed, makes me wonder - are we paralysed? Are there ways our own habits and ways of life restrict us? Do we place limits on how we expect God to work?

Do you prefer to live in the same old, same old familiar routines, that restrict you from the full freedom of life in the spirit that God offers you? We need to ensure as a church that we aren’t putting ourselves on a small mat – that we do not limit what we expect God to do, how we expect him to work in our lives God works in our hearts through faith. Not through rigidly going through the limitations of doing things a certain way.

And just like Jesus said to the man, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’ so he says also to us – pick up all that restricts you, all that prevents you from doing more, and walk away from it. And just imagine the enormous difference your life can be once freed from the limitations of your mat.

Allow God to free you from all the expectations and traditions of the past that place limitations on your life and your faith. Walk in the power of God, walk in the Spirit. Don’t stay put – get up and move, go to places you have never been to before. God isn’t interested in who makes a show and who it is that pushes themselves to the front of the queue – He looks to the thoughts of our hearts. If we turn to him, he will heal us of all that hinders, of all that restricts us from living our lives to the full. He wants us to take up our mats and to follow him – to know life in all the fullness only he can bring us.

Tina Upton