As recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 5, Jesus once asked a longtime invalid if he wanted to get well. Initially, this seems like a silly question. Of course a crippled man would want to walk – right?
Well, maybe not. Being lame meant being taken care of by others, receiving sympathy from others and having no responsibilities. It was comfortable and predictable. While being healed had been a desire for many years, to actually be able to walk again would require him to get a job, help around the house and listen as people had expectations of him. Getting healed was going to be work.
And he explained to Jesus that it wasn’t like he had not been trying to get healed. He had a plan – to be first in the pool of Bethesda when waters stirred which, rumor had it, would bring healing. Unfortunately, he had not been successful doing it his way – for 38 years – but it was the best plan he could come up with.
The man was healed by the grace and power of Jesus Christ in a manner that took everyone by surprise. Jesus simply told the invalid to get up, gather up his goods and start walking. It never would have occurred to the lame man that this was how he would be made well.
Jesus still seeks out people, looks us in the eyes and asks if we want to be changed. The key to this change lies in our availability and cooperation – “Yes, Jesus, please change me and please do it in the manner you know is best.”
I remember hearing a story about a man in our church who has a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Our pastor at the time had taken the man to lunch and had asked him during that interaction to what he attributed this exciting spiritual journey. The man replied that it was a simple request he had made of the Lord early in his journey; the prayer was this:
“God, please do anything in my life that you need to do to make You my greatest desire.”
Okay, read that prayer slowly. It may well scare the garbage out of you. “Do anything” is a willingness to go outside our box of acceptable and reasonable actions and let Jesus do whatever He wants and knows is best. “To make You my greatest desire” is the essence of radical change – but it has nothing to do with physical healing or happy marriages or comfortable financial situations. This is a dangerous prayer!
And so Jesus stands in front of you and me and asks the question: “Do you want Me to change you?” If you quickly answer, “Yes, Lord, of course,” the Lord may then ask you to prayer the little prayer above.
It occurs to me after 22 years of pastoral ministry that if more of us actually made that request of the Lord – actually said “Yes, Lord, I want to be changed by having You do whatever it takes to make You my greatest desire” – I probably wouldn’t have much to do during the day.