“What’s wrong with me?” words from my child in the midst of a late night conversation. “J” had been having a tough week and not acting like him/herself. There was selfishness, a bad attitude and a tinge of anger where there’s typically a strong love for family, an eager willingness to help and a smile.
I was grateful we were able to talk and thankful this child recognized there was a problem. We were able to discuss tendencies we have when things don’t go our way and the pity parties we throw for ourselves. “J” knew they had a part in all of this, but as I shared the story of the crippled man and his mat…we could each relate. We want to get well, but we’re not always willing to take that step and do what we need to do.
As our conversation led to a close, God put another truth on my heart. I reminded my little person that Satan was loving this…he delighted in “J’s” bad attitude and the division in our family. “J” understood this and as our conversation came to a close we were both smiling and were blessed with a powerful time of prayer.
I walked away living the reality that parenting is hard and hopeful that tomorrow would be a new day. It was and thankfully it was day that held joy and not too many sibling squabbles. But, things changed as night set in…
I no longer have to refer to another “J”…though I’d love to hide behind the label and pretend it wasn’t me. Friend, this is another post I don’t want to write, but I trust it’s one God will use. Since I tend to learn much as I string words together, I pray the first one God teaches is me, but I’m also asking Him to draw readers who can learn a lesson from my experience and perhaps prevent making the same mistakes I did.
So with that…
My husband, Job, is a wonderful man…he loves me, supports me, encourages me, listens to me, takes care of me, is patient with me, tries to understand me…I could go on, but you get the idea. Even with all that said…he’s human and so am I, which means sometimes problems arise and opportunities for growth present themselves in our marriage. Something he did, which isn’t even bad, upset me.
While I waited for him to return, my mind took over…being the stuffer that I am, other things came to mind that he had done. Then as I tried to quiet my mind my child’s question came back to me. I’ll be honest, initially my selfish self edited it a bit and I thought, “What’s wrong with him?” It didn’t take long to have a few answers.
Then the Holy Spirit redirected my thinking and reminded me of the real question I needed to consider, “What’s wrong with me?” Have you ever asked that question? It’s a hard one…it takes humility and there’s only One we should ask to answer it.
Friend, I’ll be honest I didn’t follow my advice…24 hours earlier I’d told my child to take this question to God and let Him examine their heart. Why you ask? Because I knew it wasn’t good. Sure there may be things Job could do or say differently, but I’m not in control of that and can’t change it. But the thing is, I know there were changes I could have and should have made. We don’t like to admit that do we? Recognizing our selfishness, admitting our sin and letting go of our desires doesn’t come natural.
I hate to admit this isn’t a first time experience…similar things have happened in the past. As I sat there waiting for not even five minutes it felt like God gave me a 30 minute lesson. He brought to mind the story I’d shared with my “J”…the one from John 5:1-15. This is where Jesus heals the invalid, but only after asking him if he wants to get well. Think about that question for a minute…if you’d been crippled for 38 years doesn’t the answer seem quite obvious?
Whether it’s physical pain or emotional strife or relationship struggles, I think we all want to be well, but the question is - Are willing to do what needs to be done to get there? God challenged me with this the other night while sitting in our suburban. Oh I want a marriage that reflects Christ love for the church, I want to be a submissive wife who loves my husband and I want to be a Mom who sets an example for my kids. I want all this and more, but wanting it is not enough.
Think about the invalid’s words in verse 7, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool.“ Just like him, I can make excuses. I stay on my mat wanting and waiting for change. Honestly, I don’t want to be a stormy and demanding wife who grumbles about my husband or gives him the silent treatment. But sometimes our mat gets comfortable…not in the feel good sort of way, but in the familiar, habit way of life.
I sat there reflecting on this story and God spoke to my heart. I had to do what I advised my child to do - ask Him what was wrong with me. God knows my heart and friend, He knows yours too. He will examine it and show us what needs to be healed, fixed and changed. Once we tell Him our desire is being well, He’ll provide instruction.
Jesus told the invalid, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (Verse 8) I’m not sure His instructions are always so simple and easy to do, but His expectations are the same - that we obey what He commands.
Last summer a friend shared this story with me in an attempt to encourage me in my calling and help me move past struggles with doubt and feelings of unworthiness. I'm grateful for that wisdom and God has reminded me of it quite often when doubts creep in. But, I've been reminded of the truth that God's Word truly is living and active. (Hebrews 4:12)
When we get into His Word, God meets us where we are and speaks to our heart, often through a verse or passage we already know. He did that with this passage in John 5 as I read on...in verse 14 Jesus meets the invalid again and says, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” This sentence caught my attention so I dug a bit deeper. A few things I found...there are consequences for our sin - the tension in my marriage and inner miserable feelings were proof of this, but often we return to the sin that left us feeling terrible. Not every physical sickness is the result of sin, but Jesus knows the heart and some commentators feel there was a connection between this man's pain and behavior. Jesus warned him not to sin again.
Friend, I needed that warning as well. Not just the warning, but the reminder that I was sinning...in my actions with my husband I was being selfish, I was choosing me instead of we. With 3 simple letters God answered my question - "What was wrong with me?" "SIN" That's often the answer we are given when we ask this question.
Sin is something we all experience and the one thing all people have in common. Romans 3:23 tells us, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." That means me...and you. Friend, sin is a huge topic, it's part of who we are, but doesn't need to be what defines us. I'm prepping to lead our local Titus24U group in a lesson on sin, so I'm not surprised by the timing of this experience. God's had me looking in the mirror and given me a desire to dig into His Word to find how I can overcome the sins that weigh me down and leave me on my mat.
I don't think I'll ever perfect this, but I trust God will help me understand more and sin less. If you desire the same, I invite you back for my next post when I'll share a bit of what God leads me to. In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers...I never teach on something without being tested on it! :) Your thoughts are welcomed as well, so a few things to think about...
Have you ever asked this question? "What's wrong with me?"
Can you relate to my experience?
What advice would you share with one who's struggling with sin? (And remember sin is sin in God's eyes...the world may categorize it, but God never does.)