Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Carrying Mats

I recently got a new Bible. This was a huge decision for me, as I had grown to love my old used, worn, highlighted, marked-up Bible. There were so many notes and comments from teachers, preachers and mentors that I have known and respected throughout my life. When “the seas parted” and Genesis 1-7 were completely broken away from the rest of the Scriptures, and when Ephesians 1-5 were no longer permanently attached I thought I might be nearing the end of that Bible’s daily use, but when the binding broke out and nothing was attached to the outside cover anymore I knew I had to break down and purchase a new sword.

I had decided that I wanted to have my notes and underlinings handy, so I sat down for several evenings and transferred all of the markings from my old into my new.

I loved this for so many reasons—one of which was that it helps bring back the comfort of knowing where some of my favorite passages are located, but another was just the benefit of reading through and remembering all of the lessons and comments that have meant so much to me.

I noticed one of my notes was by Mark 2, and I just loved reading over it, especially since I felt that the concept fit so perfectly in my life last week. So do you think I was shocked when Sunday night at Fall Family Worship that the lesson was on the exact text that I had already been meditating on? No, of course I wasn’t, because that is how God has been doing lots of things in my life lately. I guess he knows that I might not catch on if He tells me once, but once He finds lots of ways to tell me over and over and over I start to get the hang of it and take notice!!

The story in Mark 2 is about when Jesus came into Capernaum and began to speak in a home. Four men wanted their paralyzed friend to come to and see Jesus so badly that when they couldn’t go through the door they went up onto the roof, dug open a hole, and lowered their friend down into the house. Jesus saw their faith told the man that his sins were forgiven. Jesus knew that some men were wondering in their hearts who this man, this Jesus, thought he was, forgiving sins and all. And just to show them the authority and the power that he had, he turned and told the paralytic that he was healed and to pick up his mat and go home.

Next to Mark 2 in my Bible I have written these notes from a lesson I heard:


paralyzed physically and spiritually

Who has carried you on their stretcher?

Who have I carried?

This story is amazing because it shows such a sense of community. That man’s friends knew he needed to see Jesus. On his own accord, his physical conditions would have kept him away, but in faith his friends overcame that physical obstacle and brought him to Jesus. While we may not be paralyzed physically, how often do we become paralyzed spiritually? Overwhelmed by our circumstances. Attacked by the evil one. Weary. Distant. Hurt. Scarred. Unsure of how to even move on. Sometimes we even know that we need to find our way back, that we need to find Jesus again, but we just aren’t sure where he’s at, how to get there, or if we’ve got it in us to make the journey. Paralyzed.

That’s where the family that God has given us comes in. We are supposed to be that support for people. We are supposed to be so involved in other people’s lives that we know that they are struggling; know when they need help getting back. And as brothers and sisters, we are to pick them up on their mat and take them into the presence of Jesus. It sounds flowery and beautiful written out, but practiced it takes a lot of work. A lot of time. A lot of prayer. A lot of love. It's quite a responsibility, if you think about it. Sometimes getting involved in other people's lives can get pretty messy.

I know in my life there have been many who have carried me on my mat. There have been times that I have been so hurt, so lonely, so lost… The troubles of this world can seem to crush in all around, and knowing that there are friends and family who will pray to the Father on my behalf is amazing. At Fall Family Worship this week, David Skidmore talked about this same story and stressed the importance of having friends who would bring them closer to Jesus, especially during difficult times. He asked them, “Who’s your four?”

I am so thankful for the friendships that God has blessed me with throughout my life. I feel so blessed to have had strong, mature mentors to guide me and friends to encourage and strengthen me along my journey. Friends that I could shoot a quick "My family is being attacked and we need extra prayers this week" email and I got responses back within minutes assuring that they 'had our backs'.

I hope and pray that I have been that kind of friend to others too, but I fear that without having consciously made the effort that there are so many opportunities that I have missed out on. I can only say that from here on out I am resolved to ‘carrying the mats’ of my friends who need help getting closer to Jesus, because if I can’t do that then nothing else I do matters much.

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