BY AMY WALTON |
I like to lie on my yoga mat after doing a few stretches at day’s end. As I move, bend, and breathe, I give God thanks that I CAN move and breathe. Afterwards, I sit in stillness before my Creator, just being and soaking in His presence.
My mat is a tangible item, one I unroll, roll back up, and pick up. There are other mats, though, on which I have become a little too comfortable, keeping them unrolled while I plop my cozy self on them. I’ve been reluctant to pick some of them up. In fact, I’m still lying on a few.
There was the mat of an eating disorder that started in college and lasted four years. That was a mat of control and perfectionism. I honestly didn’t enjoy lying on that mat. Thankfully, I was able to get off and start to love and appreciate my God-created body.
I also spent time on mats I may as well have labeled “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t have time” or “Someone else will do it.”
I am still partially reclined on a mat of wanting to work more with people living in poverty, but I am taking steps to fully step off that mat.
Oh, the mats on which we allow ourselves to get comfortable…
I often wonder if I’ve become too much like the invalid man by the pool who’s mentioned in the fifth chapter of John’s gospel. Jesus spotted him lying on his mat by a body of water which supposedly had healing powers. People believed an angel stirred the water and that if one entered it as it was being stirred, he would be cured of his maladies. This guy, though, had been lying poolside a while. It’s unclear how long he’d been there, but John wrote that he had been afflicted for 38 years.
Thirty-eight years… that’s a long time.
Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well; and I must admit his reply shocks me. There was no resounding “Yes, I want to get well!” or a sarcastic “No, I love lying here!” There wasn’t even a whisper of “yes” or “no.”
Instead, he gave an excuse, blaming others for his inability to immerse himself in the water. He said people always went in front of him and that he had no one to help him into the pool.
I wonder: Did he ASK for help? Did he REALLY want to enter the water? How could he have been passed by and ignored day after day, year after year? And the more pressing question for me:
Why didn’t he exuberantly shout, “Yes, Lord, I want to be healed!” when Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well?
Had he become too comfortable-even in his misery-on his mat?
Yes, the mats on which we allow ourselves to get cozy, even when we know we should get off.
The man in the gospel story did pick up his mat and walk when Jesus commanded him. After he told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who cured him, we don’t read about him again. Maybe he did some great things, maybe not; but he knew it was Jesus who made him well.
What about us? Have we picked up our own mats?
We can talk a good talk about reaching out to the less fortunate. We may even toss a few dollars to an organization that works with the underserved, but could we pick up our mats of simply talking and donating and actually get up close and personal with a person living in poverty? They may be afraid to get off their mats, and we can be Jesus to them, helping them walk into a new life by helping them learn marketable skills and the redeeming love of Christ.
We say our church is important to us, but are we staying comfortable, afraid to embrace change? Are we remaining on our mats within the walls of the church or are we stepping off, walking outside, and being Christ in our communities?
Are we feeding the hungry? Inviting the stranger? Clothing the needy? Visiting the imprisoned? How are we being the gospel to others?
There are countless souls who don’t know the love of Jesus and may never know it if we don’t pick up our mats of complacency and walk out to meet them. We may need to ask others to join us in our walks.
Look at the missions of the Moravian Church that have been taking place for several hundred years. Perhaps you’ve been on one. It doesn’t matter whether your mission has taken you to Honduras, Jamaica, Tanzania, or right in your home state. YOU have picked up your mat and walked!
Maybe you participate or have participated in outreach ministries that serve your community. You stopped making excuses and did something, serving as the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus.
What is your church doing to get off its safety mat? Can you be a catalyst for helping create opportunities to serve? Can you ask others to help? People often stay on their mats, because they need an invitation to pick them up, kind of like Jesus inviting-in a way- the invalid man to be healed.
Let’s stop making excuses. Let’s pick up our mats and walk out of our comfort zones into sharing the love of Christ and being his vessels of service. May we respond to the Lord’s call with an enthusiastic, “Yes, Lord, I want to be healed and to serve!”
About the author
Amy Walton is a certified life coach, certified Christian life coach, speaker, and writer who has lived in coastal Virginia for nearly 30 years. A native of Mayodan, North Carolina, she was baptized, confirmed, and raised in Mayodan Moravian Church, where she remains an Associate Member. Connect with her at www.amy-walton.com or [email protected]