“For an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.” John 5:4 NASB
One of the joys of starting a New Year is the opportunity it affords to initiate a long overdue and much needed change. It is a season ripe for a breakthrough – that will free us from the inertia of the past while propelling us to possess a preferred future – that will break us free from the old while enabling us to lay hold of the new. That is the essence of what we call turning over a new leaf.
When it comes to finally doing what we have hoped and longed to do, many of us can sound like the lame man laying at the Pool of Bethesda. He had a paralytic condition that hindered him from being able to respond in time to the stirring-of-the-water seasons that periodically came along for his healing. As a result, year after year rolled by with their missed opportunities, and his excuse for his inability to change became his testimony – “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (John 5:5 NIV).
Excuses abound when desired change is not forthcoming. We easily can become fixated on the things that seem to be holding us back. Not unlike the man stuck at the edge of the pool, just feet away from his breakthrough, most are quick to cling to excuses rather than seriously consider what it will take to overcome them and make the change. Or more precisely, WHO it will take to overcome them and make the change.
Can you identify with any of these common excuses as to when you’ll finally make that change and turn over a new leaf?
- When my circumstances change.
- When so and so changes – my parent, my spouse, my child, my boss, my adversary etc.
- When it’s more convenient and not so hard.
- When I have the time.
- When I feel like it.
- When I’m convinced it’s the best thing for me and worth the sacrifice.
- When I’m finally sick and tired of being sick and tired.
- When I can get some help.
- When God finally answers my prayer.
- When? Mañana! – Sometime in the future, anytime but now.
Nobody specializes in change more than Jesus. The first thing He does is to challenge us to move beyond our excuses, no matter how genuine or heart wrenching they may be. Excuses hold us back and keep us in a state of unbelief and doubt. They produce a paralysis of analysis. That is because the focus of excuses is always on our limitations. The antidote for excuses however is faith. Faith obliterates limitations and focuses our attention instead on possibilities. This is exactly what Jesus did with the lame man. He cut through years of accumulating discouragement and excuses with just one question – “Do you want to get well” (John 5:6 NIV)? And then, Jesus called him to express his faith with this simple command – “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8 NIV). The result was a life changing breakthrough. “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked” (John 5:9 NIV).
Three times in the book of Hebrews we are told “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (3:7, 15 & 4:7 NIV). The reason for this emphatic exhortation is to encourage us not to miss out on an intended blessing from God. The very fact that you are hearing Him speak to you, should convince you that He is present and standing ready to hear and answer you.
With the start of this New Year, what change would you love to see take place in your life? If you can identify with that man, perched way too long on the edge of his miracle, could Jesus be asking you the same question? “Do you want to change?” Pause . . . listen . . . consider – D-o y-o-u w-a-n-t t-o c-h-a-n-g-e?
If you hear God speaking to you – what is your answer? How serious are you? Tell Him. Are you prepared to muster up the faith and courage to do what He tells you to do? If so, do it! The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step and the daunting resistance to tackling a long delayed project is overcome in the first ten minutes. Jesus stands ready to help you with both! Determine to lay hold of His grace to take that step of faith and give it the ten minute try.
No more excuses – just confessions and actions of faith!
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