“If I had more space I could get better organized,” I thought for the hundredth time as I looked at my cluttered living room. Our family of two adults, three kids, and a cat had outgrown our 800 square foot condo and every available nook and cranny was filled with toys, clothes, books, and papers. “If I was better organized, I would be a better wife and mother AND I’d have more time to serve you, Lord!” God was more likely to answer my prayers for a bigger home if He knew my motivation was unselfish.
I went upstairs and checked on the baby. He was still asleep, and with the girls at school, I knew I had at least an hour of quiet time. I read from John 5 where Jesus heals the paralyzed man by the Sheep Gate pool in Jerusalem, but I was frustrated and I couldn’t concentrate. “God, I know you want to teach me something, but I’ve read this story for years and I’m just not getting anything out of the Bible right now.” I closed my eyes and lay my head down on the cluttered desk next to the bed in our overstuffed bedroom.
Praying for the Holy Spirit to help my understanding of the scripture passage, I imagined myself as an overwhelmed paralytic. I felt the heat of the sun as I lay down on my thin mat. I looked around the pool at all the other disabled people there. I needed someone to help me be the first one into the pool so I could be healed but no one would help me. I was paralyzed for 38 years, so I knew the system and it was not working for me. I thought about the little things that would make me more comfortable, like scooting my mat toward some shade as the sun moved across the colonnade. Then I had an excellent idea. I thought a more comfortable and larger mat was the answer. I was lost in these thoughts when I heard the words, “Do you want to get well?” I was caught up in my imagination, and I blurted out to Jesus, “I want a better mat!” Suddenly, I was back in my bedroom. Jesus asked me if I want to get well and all I wanted was a better mat?!
The lame man in the Bible also did not answer the question. He told Jesus he had no one to help him into the healing pool when the angel stirred the waters. Jesus had plans for that man. He wanted to heal him and change the direction of his life. I, too, needed healing, not for any physical infirmity, but for spiritual and emotional wholeness. It was as if Jesus asked me the same question, “Mrs. K, do you want to get well?” Rather than say “YES!” I’d say, “Give me a bigger house, Jesus! That is the answer to all my problems and frustrations.”
What the Holy Spirit showed me that day was that Jesus wanted to give me so much more than comfort and empathy. Being short-sighted in faith was like asking for a new mat when Jesus wanted healing and wholeness for me. After healing him, Jesus gave the man an action plan, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” I had an action plan, too. I got up and did the work I had for that day.
That time with the Holy Spirit was a precious milestone in my walk of faith. I have learned to trust God beyond my circumstances because His desire is for me to be whole. My Father in Heaven wants to give me bigger and better things than anything I could ask for myself. But first I have to answer the question Jesus asks all of us, “Do you want to get well?”
Many years ago, my little girl struggled to untangle her favorite necklace. Her tiny 6 year old fingers couldn’t undo the knot in the chain. I said, “Give mommy your necklace and I will untangle it for you.” She said, “I want to do it myself!” She worked at it and did her best, but as hard as she tried she could not untangle the chain. After some time, she came to me and said, “Mommy can you help me?” I gladly took the necklace from her and used the tweezers to quickly untangle the tight knot as she watched. Minutes later she was happily wearing her necklace again.
As I worked on the necklace, I realized there were many times I had a tangle in my life that I struggled to undo in my own strength. Surely hard work and perseverance would get me what I needed! But there are times when God allows situations in my life that are beyond me. Rather than struggle and fret and get angry, I need to humble myself and give my tangle over to God. This is a far easier thing to say than to do, but this is what I have learned.
There is a difference between giving up and giving it to God. My daughter could have taken her tangled necklace and thrown it down in frustration. She would have lost the pleasure of wearing a favorite necklace and also the time we spent together as she watched me work. Giving my tangles over to God does not mean I stop working hard and doing my best. Giving things to God means I let go of my demand to have plans go my way. In time, God will bring beauty out of a mess.
God uses my humility to develop a relationship with Him. By coming to me, my daughter acknowledged her inability to do something for herself. That gave me the opportunity to show her what I could do for her. I have been blessed by God’s amazing answers in situations I thought were impossible. Thinking of it another way, I wonder how many blessings I’ve missed out on because I insisted on doing things my way and not getting anywhere. Humility increases my faith in God and deepens my relationship with Him. As a result, I have had encounters and opportunities I never would have experienced if I had maintained my stubborn desire to handle tangles my way.
As always, the best encouragement comes from God’s word. “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Proverbs 25:9) As a loving Father, God wants to strengthen my faith, but even more than that, He wants a dynamic relationship with me. When I give Him the tangles of my life, He teaches me to trust Him to do what He can with all that I cannot. And a trusting and loving relationship is even more beautiful than any untangled necklace.