My church is going through a study of the gospel of Mark and today’s sermon covered the beginning of chapter 2, where Jesus heals a paralyzed man. His friends bring him to Jesus’ home, but there is such a crowd that they cannot get near Him. So they climb to the upper porch of the home, rip up a hole in the roof, and lower their friend on a blanket to Jesus. This is one of the narratives I most remember from my Sunday School days because of the comical scene it brings to mind. People standing in a crowded home, the ceiling caving in, faces peering down from the roof into the room, and then this man descends in a blanket. Can you imagine the commotion this caused? I wonder what Jesus had been in the middle of saying to all the guests. Who fixed the roof? Jesus is moved with compassion and heals the man, who rolls up his blanket and walks out to a new life. I’ve always marveled at the friends – their dedication, creativity, and faith to help their sick friend.
The pastor pointed out that the friends didn’t just mention to the paralyzed man that “he should meet Jesus and be healed.” They didn’t tell him to “head on over to the house”. Instead, they brought him. He reminded us that today there’s still a world of difference between giving someone a set of directions versus bringing them to grace. We can be quick to offer advice, tell others what they should and shouldn’t do and then feel self-satisfied that we’ve “helped” someone. But it’s entirely different to bring love to someone, and that’s what we should be striving for. The pastor left us with the encouragement to “pick up a stretcher, rip open a roof, and bring someone to Jesus”.
That stayed with me the whole day as I’ve been thinking about that phrase “pick up a stretcher”. Quite frankly, all of us are on stretchers. We’re all broken and hurting in some way, casualties of life. None of us is self-sufficient. We all need to be about the business of picking up each other’s stretchers and bring grace and healing. This reminded me of a book that I had read a while back – the author was recounting how in times of turmoil or tragedy, to comfort her children, she would tell them to look for the helpers. Instead of having her children focusing on the pain and hurt, she would train them to be on lookout for those that were counteracting cruelty with kindness. I really took that advise to heart and have tried to implement that in my life too. Look for the helpers – and join in. We all have a choice, and with every choice we make, we are either being part of the problem or the solution. I was reminded again today of how important it is to join the team – grab a stretcher, spread some love, and bring grace to your part of the world.
This isn’t what I planned to blog about today, but I felt it impressed on my heart to share. So I hope that it is an encouragement to you.
Blessings to you,