Faith, Teaching

House of Mercy

I have long been fascinated by the questions that the Lord asks in the Bible. It started when I was reading through Genesis (one of my favorite books of the Bible, seriously) and I came to the part where Adam and Eve had sinned and then decided it would be a brilliant idea to run from Him.

Because God isn’t really that great at finding people, you know.
So anyway, God asks, “Where are you?”
And I think that’s kind of funny because when I read it years ago I thought maybe He was serious. Maybe He was thinking He had added a little too much of the landscape and now He had gone and lost His very first man. And instead of reconsidering that, I thought that instead of asking, He should have just made it so they couldn’t hide, or better yet, just fire up his powers and hone in on them.
Or, maybe He knew where they were the whole time.
Due to the fact that He is all-knowing, all-powerful God of the universe, I’m going to stick with B.
But why would He ask if he knew the answer?
It’s the same reason I asked Kate if she had eaten her Halloween candy and watched her wide-eyed, chocolate covered face shake side to side solemnly.
She hadn’t come to me, and instead I had found her out, clumsily assuming a few fig leaves (and Snickers wrappers) could prevent me from knowing of her actions.
What you will find is that God is constantly asking us where we are, even while His eyes are fixed upon us. He wants our accountability, our recognition, our understanding of who we are compared to Him.
A couple years ago I came across a story in the New Testament that really affected both my prayer life, and over time, my view of God. If you have a Bible, look up John 5:2.
We see that Jesus is traveling through Jerusalem when He passes a pool of water called “Bethesda.” In Hebrew, the word Bethesda means, “house of mercy” or “the flowing water.” Many sick, crippled, blind, and diseased people sat beside the pool because it was believed that angels periodically came and stirred the water, causing it to cure the first person who entered.
There was one man there who had been an invalid for 38 years. The Lord saw Him and asked, “Do you want to get well?”
I would imagine he did. In fact, I would venture to guess that the Lord knew the answer to the question. That’s not why He asked. He wanted the man to hear his own answer.
Instead of saying yes, the man replies, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (John 5:7)
Umm, yeah. That’s actually not what He asked. He asked if you wanted to get well.
And guess what?
He asks me (and you) too.

“Do you want to have a healthy pregnancy, Angie?”
“Well, I do. But the thing is, I don’t have a great track record, Lord. I mean, bedrest with the twins, then everything that happened with Audrey. I think the odds are against it. I mean, I want to, but…”
And gently, I hear Him whisper again.
“Do you want a healthy pregnancy?
“Yes, Lord.”
And that’s what I should have said the first time. Because by saying yes to this question, I am showing that I have a little thing called faith. And it’s kind of a big deal in the Bible. You might even say it’s a theme.
Oh, and the pool of water? Guess what? The only power it has (or doctors, or any other circumstances you are relying on) is God-given, and God-ordained.
It has nothing to do with the stirring, and everything to do with the stirrer.

Which is exactly why He asks.
And when Jesus hears my the man’s rambling, doubtful answer, He tells him to be obedient and to disregard the pool. He doesn’t need water, just a willing servant.
“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8)
So he did.
Now, at this point I need to state the obvious. He may not heal you the way you want Him to.
The other night, Abby and Ellie were discussing the fact that mommy is having a baby, and the most important question they asked was, “Will we get to bring this one home?”
What I told them was that I really hoped we would. I told them that this was the Lord’s decision, but that we should pray that we are able to. In the end, though, we will love Him no matter what He chooses. Believe it or not they were satisfied with that, and in fact, so am I.
And I mean that.
I’ve been sitting by this darn pool my whole life. I’ve relied on people, science, history, and myself for most of my years. I’m sick of complaining about the stirring and the people who are faster than me, making excuses when things aren’t going the way I want them to go.
He is in our midst, and if you love Him the way I hope you do, listen for Him in the stillness of night.
“Do you want to get well?”
In my mind, I hear Him asking it a little differently…”Do you believe I can make you well?”
Well, yes. Of course I do.
I’m not relying on feeble statistics and human ability. My God is asking me a question and I will do the only thing I know how to do.
Kneel deep and nod yes, believing that He can handle the rest.
After all, it’s His house of mercy. His unending grace and love.
Whether it’s been 38 minutes or 38 years you’ve been waiting, one thing is for sure. He is the same God now as He was in Jerusalem years ago.
So get up, friend.
It’s time to walk.
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