- Jim Lovelady
Day 23: Paralyzed
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.--Ephesians 2:4–6
I gotta hand it to grunge music for not only giving me a love for rock n' roll but also for rubbing my face in my own brokenness and depravity and that of each individual on this earth. There is not one square inch of this creation that grunge music can't say, "That is broken!"
Thanks, grunge music. You're always there to make me feel happier than at least one other person in this world!
Now, the genre as a whole can lead me to places of over stimulated self-deprecation so I have to pace myself so as not to become excessively cynical and depressed. But I do appreciate that grunge confirms this sentiment: we are all messed up.
We are all messed up AND we can't do anything about it. There are no semi-Pelagian grunge rockers. We all have a firm handle on our deep inability to make things better on our own and immediately the cry, “who will save me from this body of death“ is heard loud and clear. What will save us? It’s definitely not ourselves. Not when you’re a dead man, not when you are trapped in the box.
Here is the tricky thing about grunge music. It reveals our inability but it doesn’t naturally lead us to repentance. It only points us down the rabbit hole of self deprecation that leads to more cynicism. We can get stuck in this place…paralysis.
Won’t you come and save me?
Jesus' question to the man in the box is, “Do you want to be healed?“ In the story of the paralytic man Jesus asks this question and the response is just another excuse. It makes me think that the paralytic man who has been stuck by the waters of Bethesda for 38 years has just gotten used to making excuses. He’s just gotten used to the fact that he can’t walk and he settled into just feeling sorry for himself.
It’s kind of easy to build an identity around feeling sorry for yourself. It’s often easier than actually taking up your mat and walking. Now there are lazy people who need to be lovingly told to get busy with the good works they have been called to bring into this world and there are paralyzed people who laugh at that question and say, "You don't know me."
As one who struggles with depression, it really angers me when people just say things to the effect of “just take up your mat and walk!“ It’s just not that easy. So I have compassion on the paralytic. I can relate to him because there is a body/soul phenomenon at work here and it's complicated. But I’m also convicted by Jesus' question. Do I want to be healed? Often times the real answer is, no I don’t want to be healed. It's safer to feel sorry for myself and have others feel sorry for me because that makes me feel better about myself and it makes me feel a little bit more important because the attention is drawn on me and I can have people look at me with their empathy and it gives me a sense of identity. It's a dizzying pride that paralyzes me until I am able to relinquish my excuses and receive humility.
Maybe for you it's not depression that paralyzes you. Maybe it's an addiction. Maybe it’s that you watch too much tv rather than start that project you’ve always said you wanted to do. Maybe you are just content to live in the box of whatever mediocre life you’ve managed to carve out for yourself. Maybe you have learned to cope with your self-sabotage. Maybe you've made an art form out of sin management. All sorts of things can paralyze you from living the full, abundant life of God's kingdom.
Do you want to be healed?
In my least cynical moments of humility I can truly turn back to Jesus and say “OK, I don’t want to be healed. But I want to want to be healed. Is there something that you can do with that?”
There is actually a glimmer of hope in this place of desperation. It’s a mustard seed of faith. When you know where you are and you know that you are stuck. You don’t want good things but at least you don’t like that fact, it leaves room for Jesus to come in and offer to heal you. Now you are ready. This is actually the place of faith and repentance.
“I can do this life on my own,“ is not faith.
“I feel sorry for myself and I want everybody else to feel sorry for me,“ is not faith.
"I want to want to be healed." That's faith. Mustard seed-small, but faith nonetheless…and it leads to abundant life.
What grace there must be that the Lord of heaven and earth can do so much with oh, so little! God's grace is the invitation to the joy of repentance. Fellowship in Christ's resurrection life is the reward. The Spirit says, "Get up!"
I confess that I want to want to be healed. Won't you come and save me? Amen.
#borrowedcapital #commongrace #lent #lentconfessions #aliceinchains #grunge #music