This week, Pastor Miles invited Chris Simning to give this week's message by sharing from his own life's experiences.
Chris began the message by relating an event when he was on the freeway in the fast lane and a tire turned up in the middle of his lane. There was nowhere to go - the center divide was on his left and a car on his right. (He did hit the tire, but came down safely through God's protection.) Sometimes God's truth comes at us this way also. We speed along in the fast lane and the truth is right in front of us, but our focus is often on something else. We try to swerve and turn and we miss it because we are not fully surrendered to Him.
In John 5:1-9, a man disabled for 38 years is sits at the edge of a pool of miraculous waters, wanting to be healed and made whole. Many people are there, longing for hope of healing, to be different and changed for better. Some of us have tremendous pain in our lives. The pain is real and it digs deep, sometimes doing nothing but creating mats for us to sit on, waiting like the invalid at the pool. God wants us to wait on Him, not wait clinging to bitterness.
Chris shared some pictures of himself and his family and shared that he was born with fine motor cerebral palsy. As a young child, Chris could run and play and his voice was normal, but his hands shook so that he could never write legibly without using a typewriter. But when Chris was in eighth grade, he woke up one morning and was hit with a sudden physical brokenness that led to his being bound to a wheelchair. Chris was then diagnosed with torsion dystonia, which progressively worsened, affecting his voice and body, shattering his self-esteem, and causing him to question the love of God.
Chris was in counseling for many years, but in key moments, God changed Chris by placing people in his life to journey with him and show him the love of Jesus. God uses the hands and feet of others to give us Jesus' love when we are unable to feel in within ourselves.
In college, Chris rolled into a swim class simply to gain a P.E. credit, but Lord had other plans. Chris suddenly realized that in the water he wasn't fighting against gravity. Just as Jesus healed a man at the pool at Bethesda, He used movement in water to begin healing Chris. Just over two years later, Chris was walking again.He wants you to give Him authority over everything in your life
Chris' experiences show us that Jesus cares not only about our physical state, but the state of our souls. In John 5, before doing anything to change the man's situation, Jesus offers a golden opportunity and poses the question of a lifetime: "Do you want to get well?" (v.6)
Maybe Jesus is asking you this question as well. Maybe you're sitting on the banks of the pool, waiting for change and healing. You're so close to it, but you're broken, hurting, filled with pain, and holding on way too much. Maybe you're on a mat of pain that is causing division in your life between you and the Lord. He wants you to give Him authority over everything in your life, even the mat you're sitting on.
...he picked up his mat and walked. (v. 9)
It starts today - you can get up off your mat and go! Maybe the brokenness will linger, but you can still find joy, fulfillment, and strength.
Concerning the pain and difficulties of this life, Chris passed on a statement that someone told him long ago:
You have 2 choices: you can choose to be bitter or you can choose to be better.
The "i" in "bitter" stands for an "I" sin that focuses on me, me, me - but the "e" in "better" is an everlasting blessing.
Stop and listen to the Lord. Like that old tire rolling down the fast lane, God's truth is coming right for you, dead center. Stop swerving and embrace the truth head-on. God is good and He doesn't make junk; He made you and me.
During this message, an artist on stage made a beautiful picture from pieces of broken things. God wants to make beauty from your brokenness, too. So only one question remains: Do you want to be left stranded on your mat or do you want to get well?