Recently I was reading a story in Matthew and it hit me in a way it never had before – honestly, I don’t know that I’d ever even thought about this story much before. Jesus had just sent a bunch of demons into a herd of pigs and sent them over a cliff. Maybe that’s why this story slips by! Then He got into a boat and crossed back over to Capernaum where He was met by crowds of people like you and me.
This is the part I couldn’t stop thinking about…A group of friends brought a paraplegic man who was lying on a sleeping mat to Jesus. “When Jesus perceived the strong faith within their hearts, He said to the paralyzed man, ‘My son, be encouraged, for your sins have been forgiven.’” Then, of course, He had to deal with religious people that couldn’t stand being wrong about anything. Next He did something amazing. He told the paralyzed man, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk home.’ “Then the man got up and went home.” The crowds shouted praises to God.
I couldn’t move on to the next story for meditating on this one. Matthew never says that the man’s faith healed him. The only faith mentioned in this story is that of the friends. It doesn’t even say that the man thanked Jesus or began praising Him – only the crowds did that. How valuable was the faith of this crippled man’s friends? How valuable is my faith to the healing of others?
There have been times in my life that I felt partially crippled, but losing a child made me feel completely broken. For a time, I couldn’t get out of bed. I’ll never forget my dear friend, Celia, crawling into that bed with me one day. I’ll never forget Gina’s constant love and attention. I’ll never forget Tiffany’s devotion as she lifted me to the Father. I’ll never forget Charlotte coming by with a can of SpaghettiOs’s for lunch one day or Marty sitting with me at the bottom of the staircase speaking love to me. I’ll never forget brothers and sisters providing meals for us for weeks or picking me up for lunch. I’ll absolutely never forget how it felt to be lifted by the prayers of friends near and far. There were days I felt as if I were floating because my own legs didn’t work yet.
My faith was still there but I don’t know if it was working. Everything inside of me had gone numb. But the faith of my friends carried me for miles. And they brought me to Jesus. It was their prayers that lifted me. It was their faith that delivered me. They knew who to take me to. Where would I be without them? Where would I be without their Jesus…my Jesus…
So today, as I meditate on this story, I ask a question of myself and of you. What kind of friends do you seek? Who have you allowed into your small circle of intimacy? Will they carry you to Jesus? Will they carry you away from Him? They will carry you somewhere. How important are the friends we allow to be part of our life?
And on the other hand, what kind of friend am I? What kind of friend are you? Will you be the one that carries a friend when she cannot carry herself? Where will you carry them? Do I pray for a friend when they cannot find the words? Am I one who will carry the broken? But most importantly, where or to whom do I carry my friends? Father, let me be one who carries them to You.
Be Faithfilled and Be blessed