All people need is permission.

All people need is permission. January 22, 2016

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”  Thomas Merton

The first gag woke me from a deep sleep. It was a little after midnight and I had fallen asleep with my little boy.  When I opened my eyes, he was sitting up, whimpering, beside me. And then he spewed.  Hues of red and orange and pink collided with his white sheets as I leapt from my spot!  “Oh no!  Aww! I’m sorry buddy!”  I hate it when he’s sick.

I snatched him up, under the arms, and held him at a very comfortable distance from me. We bolted for the bathroom. We put hardwood floors down in his room before he was born, for the ease of clean-up. Hardwood floors are perfect for a time like this. The only problem?  we left proof of his dinner down the length of the cute little rug his Mama bought to keep our toes warm in Winter.

We cleaned him up.  He did it again. 

Lindsey put a towel under him the third time.

The towel caught everything the third time.  “Great idea, babe!  I sure am thankful for the towel!”

Sounds like life, right? We don’t want to step in someone else’s mess or get their nastiness on our hands. Even if they’re someone we love, often times it seems much easier to hold someone at arm’s length, until the worst is over.

  • Who really wants to get caught up in the details of someone’s affair?
  • Do you want to be the one to support the needy friend or family member night after night?
  • The kid who hasn’t been to your youth group in over a year?  You know the one.  Is it really your job to go chasing after him?  He knows where to find you.  He knows you’ll be glad to pray with him.  He knows that you know Jesus.

They all know that you know Jesus. 

In the book of John, chapter five:  Jesus was at the Pool of Bethesda, a well-known spot for healing.  Many ill people hung around the water, just watching and waiting for their chance to stand in the swirling waters and be healed.

One particular man had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, but he hadn’t received his healing because no one would pick him up and carry him to the water’s edge when it began to swirl and stir.  Jesus heard the man’s story and said, “Get up.  Take your mat with you, and walk!”  And the man did.

What was different?

The man didn’t even have to step into the water.

What changed?

He didn’t know it, but what he had really been waiting on for nearly four decades was for someone to come along and say, “It’s okay.”

He just needed permission.

 

The man had been an invalid: sick and unable to care for himself.

Pronounced another way, the word means something totally different.  Invalid: not valid.  Lacking substance. The sick man needed someone to validate him.  To confirm him.  To approve of him.  He needed someone to tell him his life had purpose. He was longing for meaning.

As Jesus spoke, I imagine the man heard something very different than a simple, “Get up and walk”. I think he probably heard something like this:

You have believed your life hasn’t mattered for far too long.  You have worth.  In spite of your past, your imperfections, and what everyone else thinks about you, I am giving you permission to get up and walk away.  Get up and leave this place and move on.  Be different. Be new. Don’t look back.

Others threw down a towel to catch the man’s mess, but Jesus came along and embraced him with a second chance. Jesus didn’t even address the man’s issues.  Jesus wasn’t blind: I’m certain He noticed the guy’s problems. But Jesus loved beyond the labels. He saw past the illness, to the heart of a human being, who had been created by Love.

In recognizing the man as a person, Jesus helped him find purpose in the midst of the struggle. In finding his value, the man was able to see himself as an equal for the first time in his life.  And that may have been the greatest grace of all.

 

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  • beautifully put … I often do keep the mess at arms length, while ignoring what God says to me, “all your righteous acts are like filthy rags” (and those “filthy rags” actually refer to something far messier than puked on rags) … I am so grateful that Christ drew near when my life what sick and disgusting … THANKS for pointing us to Him!

  • beautifully put … I often do keep the mess at arms length, while ignoring what God says to me, “all your righteous acts are like filthy rags” (and those “filthy rags” actually refer to something far messier than puked on rags) … I am so grateful that Christ drew near when my life what sick and disgusting … THANKS for pointing us to Him!

  • Wow, great perspective on this, Steve. Really like your version of this encounter.

    • Susan, thanks! This is a recycled post from a couple of years ago. I went back and re-worked it and decided to share it. I was very apprehensive, because it’s not my typical type of post any more…it felt very teacher-y, preachy…not my deal any more. But I’m so thankful it spoke to you! You made my day.

      • I always like to learn news ways to look at Scripture. I’ve learned the Spirit teaches me through other Spirit-led folks.

    • Do you ever read Morgan Guyton? Dude is brilliant. And gracious. And open-minded. And like seriously WAY too smart for me. But oh my gosh, I love learning from him. Here’s a link to one he wrote recently: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice/2016/01/21/why-dont-we-call-god-they-instead-of-he/

  • Wow, great perspective on this, Steve. Really like your version of this encounter.

    • Susan, thanks! This is a recycled post from a couple of years ago. I went back and re-worked it and decided to share it. I was very apprehensive, because it’s not my typical type of post any more…it felt very teacher-y, preachy…not my deal any more. But I’m so thankful it spoke to you! You made my day.

      • I always like to learn news ways to look at Scripture. I’ve learned the Spirit teaches me through other Spirit-led folks.

    • Do you ever read Morgan Guyton? Dude is brilliant. And gracious. And open-minded. And like seriously WAY too smart for me. But oh my gosh, I love learning from him. Here’s a link to one he wrote recently: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice/2016/01/21/why-dont-we-call-god-they-instead-of-he/

  • Hi Steve,
    A Faith Tribe Writer here. I would love you to consider linking to my Word of God Speak. My new linky will be coming out tomorrow morning. You can link more than 1 post but it must be about God.
    Blessings,
    Janis

    • Hi Janis,
      I consistently write about my faith but more about the way it intersects with my life, mental illness, recovery from abuse and addiction. Does this fit what you are looking for? I am slightly unconventional.

      Thanks,
      Steve

  • Hi Steve,
    A Faith Tribe Writer here. I would love you to consider linking to my Word of God Speak. My new linky will be coming out tomorrow morning. You can link more than 1 post but it must be about God.
    Blessings,
    Janis

    • Hi Janis,
      I consistently write about my faith but more about the way it intersects with my life, mental illness, recovery from abuse and addiction. Does this fit what you are looking for? I am slightly unconventional.

      Thanks,
      Steve

  • Sarah

    This is so good. I’ve always had a problem with the common interpretation of Jesus asking the man, “Do you WANT to be well?” I’ve so often heard it preached with a tone of condemnation, as though people really don’t want to experience wholeness and freedom. There may be a few out there like that, but I think more often we don’t think we can have it and so we bury even the desire. So when Jesus asks us what we want, maybe he’s more highlighting his goodness to fulfill those longings than condemning our broken and sick hearts. Good stuff, Steve!

    • Fantastic response, my friend! I have heard that version preacher too. I am in a process of unlearning. 🙂

  • Sarah

    This is so good. I’ve always had a problem with the common interpretation of Jesus asking the man, “Do you WANT to be well?” I’ve so often heard it preached with a tone of condemnation, as though people really don’t want to experience wholeness and freedom. There may be a few out there like that, but I think more often we don’t think we can have it and so we bury even the desire. So when Jesus asks us what we want, maybe he’s more highlighting his goodness to fulfill those longings than condemning our broken and sick hearts. Good stuff, Steve!

    • Fantastic response, my friend! I have heard that version preacher too. I am in a process of unlearning. 🙂

  • sarah

    This really spoke to me today. We recently moved to another new city for my husband’s job and I’ve been in a deeper depression than I’ve seen in a while. It always has to do with finding new friends, but today I feel this speaking to me and telling me I can’t wait for permission or invitation. I have to know my value and work to make friends instead of feeling like I must be a loser because no one’s inviting me.

    • :/ moving is not always fun. I’m sorry for the transition time but I am glad this spoke to you. Praying for peace and grace and new friends!! 🙂 –Steve

  • sarah

    This really spoke to me today. We recently moved to another new city for my husband’s job and I’ve been in a deeper depression than I’ve seen in a while. It always has to do with finding new friends, but today I feel this speaking to me and telling me I can’t wait for permission or invitation. I have to know my value and work to make friends instead of feeling like I must be a loser because no one’s inviting me.

    • :/ moving is not always fun. I’m sorry for the transition time but I am glad this spoke to you. Praying for peace and grace and new friends!! 🙂 –Steve