After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. John 5:1-9.
Below is an excerpt from one of my paintings. It recently had an outing to Wick when it was on display for Midnight Mass. This painting can be many things to different people, it has many different layers and was painted in response to an extremely persistent nudge from the Holy Spirit. I could have ignored that nudge. That persistent feeling, but I felt it was important to obey. I could have said something along the lines of “If only I had the skills…” or “If only God would provide someone to teach me…. or help me…” One of the phrases I have heard over and over when I have presented this painting at various venues is “If only God would give me the breathing apparatus I need to dive into the depths…”
The diver in the painting quite deliberately hasn’t a snorkel and mask and oxygen tanks because the breathing apparatus is man-made. We don’t need something made by man to go deeper into God. The man lying by the pool didn’t need someone to lift him into the pool. I didn’t need someone to show me how to create this painting. That sounds arrogant, but what I mean is that my dependence on ‘man’ was greater than my dependence on God. My focus was not on what God can do, but rather what I could do if ‘man’ showed me the way. I needed to change my mindset and trust that God would show me how to paint. The strokes and the way in which I would paint might only be as good as a three year old’s but it certainly wasn’t going to be like an old master’s. I had to trust that what I did would be good enough. I had to trust that God would provide the skills. The man by the pool had to trust Jesus when he was told to get up and walk.
Dear Lord, we struggle to place our trust in you. We often think that others are praying on our behalf so we don’t have to. Help us to change our focus from ‘man’ to you. Where we struggle to hand things over to you, help and guide us to keep our eyes focussed on you. Where we think we can do better, gently remind us that you are God, not us. Help us to discern that small, quiet voice of calm and everything around is raging and clamouring for our attention. Where an inkling or thought comes to mind, supposedly out of the blue, help us to discern whether that is from you and whether we should act on it. Thank you for the freedom and peace that we find in you.