Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

“At least I can’t die young anymore! Guess I can scratch that off my bucket list,” Brian grinned just before blowing out the candles on his birthday cake. Not that he really had dying young ON his bucket list, but he IS the oldest known survivor of his type of treatment for his particular type of cancer, which he was diagnosed with when he was only 27. (Very scary to me personally, because my youngest son was 27 yesterday.)

Brian never dreamed he’d make it to his 60th birthday (and frankly, I wasn’t so sure either), so it was with a sense of grateful joy and awe that our Birthday Club treated Brian to a very special birthday party yesterday!

Where to take him? That was easy! The day before he was born, his mother and father were at the John Ball Zoo, and his mom started having contractions, so Brian says he was “almost born at the zoo!”

Brian only visited the zoo once in his life, on his 10th birthday, and he remembered being fascinated by the antics of the otters. Since he hasn’t been back in 50 years, he thought visiting the zoo would be the perfect way to spend his day!

Of course, we wanted to see everything (and pretty much did), but—you know—like everybody, we wanted to make sure we saw “the lions,

the (sleeping? oh, no!) tigers
and (SLEEPING!! 😦 ) bears. Oh, no!”

But, there was no shortage of excitement and fun, including a few “firsts” for Brian, such as petting a goat

and taking a ride on a funicular. (Not sure they were on his bucket list as such, but he thoroughly enjoyed the new experiences!)

We also made a new friend: Herbie! Herbie is 34 and one of the oldest Magellanic penguins in captivity in the world. Herbie’s fur is almost all grey, and he seemed content to swim on the surface, but he was still swimming! It was a little hard not to miss some of the similarities between our new and old friends. Very touching.

Oh, but I wanted to tell you about how teamwork makes the dream work! In this photo, you see Susan in a wheel chair! She turned her ankle helping one of her daughters the day before our outing. Thankfully, her beloved husband took a day off work to help us get the dream team around!

An aphorism of their son-in-law, Seth’s (so we call it a Sethism), is that “teamwork makes the dream work.” I don’t know who said it first, so if you know, please let us know, but . . .isn’t this a clever truism?

And, isn’t God good!? Brian was never able to marry or have a family. His father died several years ago, and his mother passed away 23 weeks ago to the day. But, he has us. He has a family of brothers and sisters in Christ to love him and appreciate him. Brian is a real prayer warrior! He can’t travel much, but he never misses a prayer meeting via telephone for the church on Sunday morning, and he’s never missed a single Monday night prayer meeting for my son Jonathan’s ministry.

He’s knitted booties for all our grand kids, always smiles, and always says it’s too early to start complaining (although he could well have started 33 years ago).

I hope his story brightens your day. It certainly brightened ours!

God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land” (Psalm 68:6).

Choking Hazards

Robin in our cherry tree

We’ve had four nearly deadly choking incidents in our family in the past few months: a grand daughter who was sucking on a sucker that came off the stick and totally blocked her airway, a great nephew who ended up in the hospital after a frightening experience with choking, and the latest was a grand son who ended up in the hospital for most of Memorial Day weekend when he choked on a piece of chicken that also tore his esophagus and caused such swelling that he could breathe but could not swallow. Had he lived before modern medical treatments, he doubtless would have died too.

These close-to-fatal occurrences didn’t just effect the youngest generation, either. One of my sister-in-laws choked at a dinner party last month and couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, a doctor was in attendance and was able to expel the food using the Heimlich Maneuver. When my brother thanked him, he said something like, “Wow! Thank you! If you hadn’t been here, she might of died!” to which the doctor responded dryly, “If I hadn’t been here, your wife would have died.” My brother didn’t think he was being proud . . . just stating a fact.

Red-bellied Woodpecker at our feeder

Now, when people are choking to death, nobody stops to take pictures, so I’m using some of the lovely birds who’ve been feeding out my window to illustrate this post, but that doesn’t mean I take lightly the gravity of what could have been. In a matter of moments—on four separate occasions and in four completely different locations this spring—our family could have lost someone irreplaceably precious. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and pain we’d all be in today had even one of those choking events ended in the death of a loved one, but in fact—but for the mercy of God—we could have had to endure four such funerals.

What to do? Well, for sure we should all be more careful to chew our food thoroughly before swallowing, and I (for my vote) am not going to suck on or give hard, round candies to my loved ones . . . even if they are on sticks! Alan (my handy source of all medical advice) says it’s worth watching some videoes on how to do the Heimlich Maneuver, although the fact is that it takes so much pressure to actually “do it right” that you can’t fully practice without causing so much discomfort you’ll be unlikely to get a likely suspect to let you practice. According to the Mayo Clinic, 5,000 people die each year from choking incidents, so it’s well worth studying in order to know what we should do. There are lots of YouTube demonstrations on line. To get you started, here is a 1-minute video put out by Mayo explaining what to do: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps&hspart=SGMedia&p=video+on+the+heimlich+maneuver#id=4&vid=aa91d558186d160ec9907520b16d3674&action=click

Another video that I found helpful (but is longer, although also more thorough and discusses how to help yourself, infants, children, and dogs) can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtqLAS5rgGQ

Beyond being careful and trying to be prepared, I also want to take this opportunity to encourage you to be prepared for your own death. After all, life is terminal, and we are all going to die—if not suddenly, then someday. Nobody gets out of life alive!

If you die tonight, do you know where your spirit will go? If you don’t, and you’d like to know that you will go to heaven, please click on the tab that says “Coming to Christ” at the top of this page, and it will explain how to know you’re going to heaven when you die. May God bless you with faith, hope, and peace today!

Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love” (2 John 1:3).

Blind Spots

Five years ago, I noticed a tiny blind spot in the middle of my right eye, so small I figured nobody would know what it was and accuse me of having an active imagination (which—of course—I couldn’t deny). However, three years ago, I had a vitreous detachment, which left behind a trail of debris, most notably something that looked like a tarantula lurking in the upper right-hand cobweb of my eye (the worst of all Rorschachian possibilities for this arachnophobe). 😦

And then, a couple of years ago, I started noticing a grey blob in my vision somewhat near the center of my right eye. At first, I assumed it was just the breakdown of the debris, but then I started having other symptoms too. The hearing in my right eye was perceptibly worse than in my left ear, and I started having occasional headaches and some dizziness, which was totally new for me. I couldn’t tell if it was just old age setting in, or if there was something more serious going on. (Now, old age is terminal, so I’m not saying it’s not serious, but there’s not much that can be done about such a chronic condition.)

Last summer, my internist sent me to an ophthalmologist, who couldn’t find anything wrong with my eye or optic nerve, although he said no matter how he tried to fool my eye, it perfectly failed to record vision in that area, so he knew I had a true blind spot. He wondered if I’d been staring at the sun or had been hit by a laser beam, although I had no memory of either. My eye doctor sent me on to an ENT doctor, who couldn’t find anything wrong with my ear. Puzzled, I was sent for an MRI. Nothing there either. (The great news on this is that my mother developed Alzheimer’s, so for the past 30 years I’ve had some fear of inheriting her horrible illness—but they saw no trace. A definite plus for having my brain scare!)

Nobody could explain my symptoms, but they said to come back if anything worsened, and my eye doctor sent me home with some Amsler Grids to do self-tests on my eyes every month and track any changes.

It’s almost time for my annual physical again, and so I was taking stock of my health, and it occurred to me that my grey blob has slowly become a non issue. In fact, I’ve stopped noticing it. I’m not dead sure whether my eye is improving or my eyes have just learned to compensate, but either way, I no longer have a perceptible blind spot.

So, here’s what I think:
*I’m getting older and beginning to experience normal issues of older-aged people, or
*I’m dying of some as yet un-diagnosed disease

Meanwhile, my blind spot has all but disappeared, for which I’m very thankful. But, it makes me ponder spiritual blind spots . . .how we get them, and what we can do to try to overcome them. Physically, about the only thing we can do to avoid developing a blind spot is to be as healthy as possible—eat right, exercise, get enough sleep . . . we all know the drill. Spiritually, I think there are about the same number of essential practices to help us—meditate on the Bible, pray, and keep active in a church community.

Still, we are all susceptible to blind spots. Vitreous detachments are very common in older people, occurring when the jelly-like vitreous dries out and shrivels up a little, making it less flexible, so that little pieces can become detached from the back wall of the eye. If the retina detaches, we can become totally blind. Oh, but doesn’t that sound like us old saints, who don’t like change in the church? (Guilty as charged.) Let’s not let ourselves become detached and develop blind spots! Let’s learn to compensate (through love) so we don’t lose our vision altogether!

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).

Be Thou My Vision
(—Dallan Forgaill, Public Domain)

  1. Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
    Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
    Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
  2. Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
    I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
    Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
    Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
  3. Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
    Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
    Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
    Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
  4. Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
    Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
    Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
    High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
  5. High King of Heaven, my victory won,
    May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
    Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
    Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Bad Surprises

Do you like surprises? Recently, I sat with some friends in the hospital waiting room, discussing whether or not we liked surprises. We were awaiting (rather anxiously) to hear the report from my friend’s exploratory surgery. (I will call her Carissa, although that’s not her real name.) Carissa’s daughter said she thought the only people who really love surprises are children who are about five and under looking forward to their birthday or Christmas. We shared stories of surprise birthday parties that we’d enjoyed (or not) over the years.

One of the ladies recounted a tale of a surprise 50th birthday party that went awry when she showed up without any makeup on a bad hair day, and about 60 friends were there to greet her! She was so dismayed that her college-aged daughter (who had gone to great pains to organize the party) ended up in tears and hasn’t tried to surprise her since. (This occurred about 25 years ago!) We decided that we only like “GOOD” surprises, where we love the unexpected event and it comes at a time that doesn’t distract us from what we think we “ought” to be doing . . . especially if we’re somehow appropriately dressed for the occasion. 🙂

Well, that afternoon, we got a very BAD surprise. After about five hours of surgery, the surgeon had a private conference with Carissa’s husband and daughter. The longer they were gone, the more we worried and prayed. Carissa and her husband had just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Carissa is one of these super bubbly, sunshiny souls who has been like a rock to her husband, who’s been struggling for several years with very serious cancer himself. We were all shocked and devastated when she started experiencing severe pain recently and was diagnosed with cancer. I think we all assumed Carissa would be at her husband’s bedside to the very end.

However, when they opened Carissa, they found that her situation was much worse than feared and basically inoperable. Her husband and children were faced with a decision: Attempt a heroic surgery that might not work (but if it did, it would prolong her life, although leaving her disabled), or give up on the surgery in hopes of a more normal lifestyle, but with a shorter life expectancy.

What a horrible decision to have to make! What would you choose? (If you are married, this would be a great discussion to have with your mate JUST IN CASE. I had this discussion with my husband after I came home. Quality versus quantity. Which??) Carissa’s husband and daughter—tearfully trying to choose what Carissa would choose—opted for quality.

Carissa has a deep, joyful faith. She has taken everything like a trooper so far, and I think she will overcome this terrible shock too, but I find myself praying and pondering a lot every day. I always tell my husband that I’d like to die of a heart attack or something quick with a very short illness. Like Carissa, I am ready to go to heaven and be with Jesus, even though it would (will) be terribly hard to leave all my loved ones. How about you? Are you ready to meet God? Is He your Father? Have you trusted Jesus as your Savior? God is waiting for you with his arms out, wanting you to become his child and come to be with him in heaven when you die.

If you are not sure what will happen to you after you die, may I share a couple of passages from the Bible that explain who Jesus is and how to become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:1-18)

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18)

P.S.—If you would like more information about how to become a Christian or how to prepare for death, please click on the link at the top of this page that says “Coming to Christ.” It will walk you through the steps to become a child of God and become secure in knowing you will go to heaven when you die. God bless you~

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (30): Stretch Out Your Hand


What an invitation! A man with a withered hand was in the synagogue when Jesus came in to teach. As I am preparing this meditation, I am still sporting two external pins in the little finger of my right hand, and it makes me painfully aware of how debilitating it would be to live life without a functional right hand! Even basic self care and simple household chores like preparing and cleaning up meals, washing and folding clothes, ironing, cleaning, shopping, trying to write—everything is harder, and some things simply can’t be done with one hand. How much harder must it have been for a man in the agrarian culture of ancient Israel, where his livelihood probably required the strength of two hands and arms. Clearly, he needed help!!

Reading the passages (listed below), it is despicably obvious that the religious leaders had no compassion. (Lord, is it I?) They weren’t hoping that the man with the withered hand might be healed; they were just looking for an excuse to accuse Jesus of breaking some law so they could stone him and get rid of him. Why did they want to get rid of him? Because he was incredibly popular, and they feared losing their power over the people. That’s it? Yep! Pretty much! Well, they also didn’t understand him, and they didn’t like his unconventional approach to life.

Jesus knew their thoughts. He knew they were plotting to kill him . . . on the sabbath day. He was angry and grieved because they were so hard hearted, so he said to them: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”

The Pharisees were totally unconcerned for the man with the withered hand, so they didn’t answer. To them, it was like playing a chess game, or worse yet, they were like hungry tigers prowling around, just hoping for Jesus to make a false move so they could trap and destroy him.

In a stunning display of power and wisdom, Jesus simply told the man to stretch out his hand, which the man did, and when he did, he was instantly healed! Good overcame evil! The Pharisees left to plot Jesus’s murder while I imagine there was great rejoicing within the synagogue. No one who saw this miracle would ever forget! In fact, it says that after this event, Jesus “withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all” (Matthew 12:9-15). He healed them all—not a few, not some, but all of them!

The scriptures don’t tell us how the man’s hand became withered. It could have been caused by a careless accident on his part, or disease, or as the result of his very heroically trying to save someone. The cause of the problem was not an issue, but the man’s faith was. He had to attempt to reach out. He might have said, “Why are you asking me to do something I can’t do?” or “Heal me first, and then I’ll stretch out my hand.” But, he didn’t! Instead, the man with the withered hand obeyed Jesus, stretched out his hand and was made whole!

Lots of thoughts flood my mind while considering this passage:

*Is there any part of me (like my heart) that is withered?
*Am I jealous of anybody who is doing God’s work in a novel way?
*Am I so focused on keeping the laws that I fail to focus on compassionate care?
*Am I willing to stretch out my hand?
*Am I afraid that God can’t or won’t heal me because my problems are “my fault”?

Jesus is still working miracles of healing today. Sometimes he cures physical problems, but most significantly, He heals our spiritual diseases, forgives our sins, and transforms our lives. Are you feeling a need for healing, hope, renewal, strength? I feel a need every day! As D.L. Moody used to say, we are “leaky vessels” and need constant refilling with the Holy Spirit! If so, will you join me in this prayer? “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit” (Psalm 143:5-7).

Texts for today’s meditation: “And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue:10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all” (Matthew 12:9-15).

“And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him” (Mark 3:1-6).

“Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:9-11).

Downside Up is Upside Down

Downside Up
 
Sorry, little fly.
Wings sail on wind, not water.
What a sad shipwreck!

There are definite problems with going to sleep at night with unresolved pictures and problems on your brain. For instance, the night before I was going to write a haiku about this image, I woke up several times with different takes on the poor, lifeless dragon fly I found in the wake at Daytona Beach.

Bye, Bye Dragonfly

Such a tragedy!
Even though you’re all washed up
You can’t eat supper.

Even though by midnight I could see some dark humor in playing on words, I found myself grieving the loss of this tiny, shiny life. His fragile wings were still intact, and he looked completely whole, like he should be struggling to free himself and fly away. But, in reality, he had no life left in him. He had drowned.

Of course, everything in life reminds me of other struggles and challenges, such as those that I, my friends, and my loved ones face. I grieve for every person who is tempted to do something they weren’t created to do and won’t be able to handle. I grieve for everyone who thinks they can live below where there is no air. God created us to live and thrive, but it’s our responsibility to stay above the surf . . . upright.

Fulfilling Our Purpose


Made to soar, not swim.
No fly is built to backstroke.
Sleep now; it’s your wake.

Drugs, sex, alcohol . . . whatever siren is calling you, please don’t flirt with the waves. You’ll be enticed out into the deep, where it’s way over your head, and sin will win in the end. Escape while you can!

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren” (James 1:13-16).

P.S.—If you noticed my photo yesterday, I still have pins in my little finger which are not scheduled to come out until next week, and as the external pins have now become internal pins (from banging them too often accidentally), it’s likely to be a very miserable process to extract them, leaving my paddy paw quite sore. So, if you’ll indulge me, I know it’s now May and I no longer have “April is National Poetry Writers Month” as an excuse for writing shorter posts, but I may continue until I have a full set of fingers for typing again! 🙂

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (26): Take Up Thy Bed and Walk

To me, this is one of the most provocative recordings of Jesus healing someone, and the fact that three of the gospel writers included it makes me think they found it astonishing too. First, if you take time to read the three stories (listed at the end of this post), you’ll notice a perfect example of why the first three books—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—are called the “Synoptic Gospels,” which means basically that the material in all three books is generally consistent and given from a similar viewpoint. These three books focus more on the public ministry of Christ, whereas the gospel of John focuses more on the heart of Christ and his spiritual ministry.

Today’s account describes a time when Jesus healed a man, not based on his faith, but based on the extraordinary faith and determined love of the man’s friends!

Jesus had returned to his hometown, Capernaum, and I believe this event actually took place in his own home, because it says in Mark 2 that “it was noised that he was in the house.” (Who else’s home would be described as “the house?”) The news of Jesus’ supernatural ability to heal had made him famous throughout Israel, so people came from everywhere, crowding around to see him: And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17).

Now, here’s the most exciting part of the story to me! A sick man had four friends who loved him so much that nothing was going to stop them from getting the man to Jesus. Since nobody would move aside so the men could carry their stretcher through the door, they somehow managed to climb up on the roof.

Once on the roof, they pulled aside the thatch and broke up the roof so they could lower the palsied man down, right in front of Jesus!

Can you imagine the crowd’s reaction? “What will Jesus do? Will he get mad at the men for breaking up the roof of his house? Will he ask the sick man if he has the faith to be healed? Will he perform a great miracle? I hope so! That’s what I came all the way to see!” I can just hear the whispering, and then the hush . . .

Nobody expected Jesus to respond the way he did. Instead of healing the man with palsy, we’re told that “Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). “What? Why did he say that? Anybody can say that, but only God can really forgive sins. We’ve been duped! We came all this way to see a miracle, and instead this shyster is acting like he has the power to forgive sins and isn’t really going to heal the man at all.”

Imagine everyone’s surprise when Jesus knew what they were thinking and answered: “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:8-11).

Which is, in fact, exactly what the palsied man did! “And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day” (Luke 5:25-26). I’ll say they did! Can you imagine a sick man being so miraculously recovered that he could not only stand up, he could pick up his bed (which would have been just a mat, but still, that’s very impressive) and carry it into his own home?

Beyond the most notable lesson from this story, which is that Jesus proved his deity and his authority over both sin and sickness, isn’t it thrilling to realize that Jesus won’t get angry at us for persistence? Got any loved ones who don’t even believe in Christ but need healing? We can carry them on a stretcher, and even if it means blowing the roof off of God’s house (which might be our church), we can bring them in for help. Jesus will respond to our faith.

Of course, in the final analysis, the sick man himself had to have enough faith believe he was healed. He had to stand up, walk, and take up his own bed. He had to believe, but he might not have believed if his four friends hadn’t gone to so much trouble and risk to bring him to Jesus. “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” (Romans 3:3). How deep is our faith? How deep is our love for others?

“And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” (Matthew 9:1-8)

“And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” (Mark 2:1-12)

And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. 19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.” (Luke 5:17-26)