“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” Mark 1:41 (KJV)
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6 (NIV)
If you’re like me, you’re struggling with some issue or some bad habit that you cannot seem to overcome. It has come up repeatedly and seems to constantly defeat you. If you’re not like me and you’re looking for the perfect Christian representative, I suggest you stop reading now. My life is far from perfect. I am a work in progress. I know we Christians invest an awful lot of energy into appearing perfect, like all is well in our lives. It’s because we have been conditioned to believe that we must be doing something wrong if all is not well. Well, something is wrong but it may not be that we are lying, cheating, stealing or doing something that is obviously wrong. The problem may lie in our mindset. I believe if we can change the way we think, we can change our lives. As Dr. Phil says, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” Or put another way, “Only a fool believes he can continue to do the same thing and get a different result.”
I want to bring your attention to two miracles of Jesus from the Bible. A man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged: “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me.” Jesus replied, “I am willing.” Many times we petition God in the same manner, leaving the matter up to him. We say, “If you want to, you can help me.” Things may not work out in the way we would like, leaving us angry because we feel he didn’t want to help us. Or we say, “It wasn’t His will.” In the second example, a crippled man waited by a pool that was believed to have miraculous healing power. Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to be healed?” The man answered him with excuses. He skirted the issue by saying, “Well, I would like to but I don’t have anyone to help me into the water.” This was not an answer to the question. Jesus came to help him but was he willing to be healed? I believe the same applies to us today: Are you willing? Are you willing to be stirred from excuses and self pity? To stop assigning blame? To lay all that aside and get to the root of the problem? To dare to do something differently? Do you have the courage to take on the issues of your life and make the necessary changes? It occurred to me that, sometimes, it may be that we are missing that important piece of prayer – our own cooperation. It may be that He IS willing but our progress is hampered because we are not willing (or maybe don’t understand how) to do our own part.
My daughter, typical teenager that she is, frequently thinks her world is coming to an end. Every molehill becomes a mountain. As a result, she has spent a good portion of her teendom in a sulk over this issue or that. Touchy AND moody. But then again, I cannot blame her – I believe she comes by these traits honestly. She gets them from me. And I, even seeing my flaws, was quite content to be that person until I saw those flaws magnified in her. “Whoa!” I thought. I’ve got to get a handle on this. I’ve got to find a better way. Understandably, my daughter was pretty broken up over the divorce. She really loved her daddy. And she loved me, too – I was her hero. There was a period of adjustment when, it seemed, all we did was scream at each other. That was a rough time for us both – and for my son who had to witness it. Bless him. But I refused to give up. I refused to lose my children, too. I looked into my future and saw a daughter who hated me, who never came to visit because our relationship was so strained. I saw a son who refused to be in the same house with us because of our bickering. I did not want THAT to be our future. So one day I told my daughter, “I love you. I don’t want to lose you. I want us to be close. So I’m choosing to relate to you in a different way.”
Well, we’ve had plenty of arguments since that day. But on the whole, our life and relationship is much better. We’ve resolved a lot. We talk a lot. We cry a lot. She made a choice that day, too. She learned that it was ok to still love her father. And I am still her hero (her words, not mine)! Recently, I decided to apply that mentality to some of my present day struggles. I learned from what worked in the past and decided to use it to change my life. Some things I have prayed for years for God to take away from me – things I am ashamed of, things that do not make me a good Christian – I realized that they were but a choice for me. If I choose to live my life differently, I can. Now I say to those desires that used to entrap me, “I don’t want to be that person anymore.” I picture myself wrestling and saying, “I’m reaching for something better, something higher.”
I know that sounds like a lofty goal but so far, it’s working for me. I still struggle but I think this is helping me to keep my future goal in sight. I’m living in the present, with my mind set on who I want to become. Nope – I’m still not perfect. Like most people, I’m doing the best that I can, with what I have, on most days. But now, at least, I have a plan. I am choosing a more excellent way. The question has become, “Do you want to be a better person and live a different life? Would you like to overcome these obstacles that prevent you from doing so?” And my answer to that is, “I am willing.”