Life isn’t always as cookie cutter as we might like it to be.
Sometimes, things go exactly how we hope… all of our expectations are met, all of our self-inflicted concerns are washed away in a moment of completeness, and all of our hopes become realities as we find ourselves living in a fairy tale that Disney would obviously love to create into a multi-billion dollar blockbuster.
But then there are those moments, when all your hopes are hinged on something you believe would be wonderful. And you have faithfully prayed for the thing that your hopes are hinged on… and you faithfully believe that God hears you and knows what’s best for you… and it doesn’t work out.
It is then when Jesus sometimes leans in and says something that is totally obnoxious to your human brain and heart and eternal (but still human) soul.
Sometimes, Jesus leans in and says things like, “Hey,so, do you trust Me?”
I don’t mean this in jest toward the Lord. I adore Him, I respect Him, and I trust Him.
But sometimes, Jesus is a punk… even in scripture. Remember the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda?
Do you remember the audacious words that Jesus flung at him?
This man had been sitting at this pool waiting for his potential turn to touch the water when the angel came and stirred it up… he had been waiting for 38 years. Waiting on faith… but waiting and always being too late to the pool when it came time for healing.
And what does Jesus do?
Does He offer to carry him to the pool when it is time? No.
Does He touch this man to heal him and sing sweet hymns over him? No.
Is He even considerate in His language toward the man? Um… no, it doesn’t seem so.
Jesus first walks up to the poor guy and basically says (in the NAV – New Ali Version), “Hey dude, so… do you want to be healed or what?”
And all I can picture is this 40 year old man looking at this punk 30 year old Man with total annoyed disgust splattered all over his face. His response captures exactly that. Again in the NAV, “Uh yeah Dude… but I’ve been here day in a day out and no fool has helped me… no one has picked me up and carried me into the pool like a good 30 year old person would do if they cared about goodness… you punk.”
And you might THINK that Jesus would be nice at this point… you might THINK that Jesus would say, “Aw man I’m so sorry. I’m just feeling sassy today. I’ll help you out… don’t trip… and I don’t mean that literally… again sorry for the sass.”
Jesus looks at this man who is incapable of standing up on his own and says, “Dude. Get up.”
Of all the obnoxious things to say to a guy who has experienced paralysis for almost 40 years, Jesus chooses the most socially unacceptable statement.
I don’t know the rate at which this man understood that he had, in fact, been healed… but he obeys Jesus and is so ecstatic about his newly acquired talent for walking, he forgets to even ask for Jesus’ name. Jesus being a master at the Irish Exit vanishes from the scene without any warning.
Has this ever happened to you?
Has Jesus ever been sassy in your life? Because He has been to me.
Have you ever gotten exactly what you hoped for and ran away into the sunset of success, leaving Jesus by the pool of sick people without even so much as a “hey thanks for all the help!” ?
Or, maybe you’ve been waiting by the pool for what is expected and you always arrive one minute too late… everything you’ve been hoping for, longing for and wanting has vanished. Have you ever been there?
Have you ever been in the place where you look up at the sky and frustratedly blurt out “Why couldn’t it have worked out that way, God? Don’t You know that I was praying for it?! Don’t You know? Don’t You know that I need this?! Don’t You?!”
Because I’ve been there. I’ve been there often. It’s really easy to play the sweet, humble Christian girl and say things like, “Oh yes, I know God’s plan is bigger than mine… God knows better and I trust Him…”
But really, your heart is screaming I’m SO ANNOYED WITH GOD RIGHT NOW BECAUSE HE DOESN’T SEEM TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I NEED.
Sound familiar? “There’s no one to take me to the pool… You don’t understand what I need.”
Really I think it’s in those moments when Jesus is shaking His head and saying, “Dearest Heart, just wait. Just wait because I am doing something better than you expected.”
In the end, the once-lame man is running around telling people that he had been healed by the Nameless Wonder, thrilled about his story, thrilled that it happened another way other than the darn pool that had been his foreground and hope for years.
And Jesus finds him in the temple, introduces Himself and then says “Stop sinning… because the consequences of that are so much worse than laying by a pool in the dirt your whole life waiting to be healed.”
Jesus finds this man to save him. Then, the man goes and tells everyone he can that Jesus healed him fully.
This is so important.
Because Jesus isn’t into the temporary fix. He isn’t into happy… He’s into Joy. He isn’t into making circumstances right just for the sake of what is right… He’s into making you realize how much He cares about every area in your life so that you understand just how much you need Him.
I love that Jesus is sassy. I love that He doesn’t answer in the ways that I want Him to… because that allows me to become a real person… not a spoiled rotten princess.
Because don’t you know? Rot does not exist in the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus refuses to let it infest your soul.
Not getting the answer the way I want it to come allows me to be raw with God… which is something that I think is forgotten about in church culture. Don’t you know that God knows how upset and frustrated you are? Why are you trying to hide that from Him? Don’t you know that you’re His kid, and He wants you to be able to bury your face into His chest with total irritation?
And it also allows me to actually come to a place where I can honestly say and fully believe that I trust God in all things… in my disappointment and in my success.