The day is stifling hot. How he wants to stay in the shade and be left alone, here in his house. What hope is there for him beyond his own front door?
His hand drops to the dry earth beside his mat. Dust is caked into the wrinkles of his time-worn hands. He rolls the word around his mind like a pesky sharp-edged pebble. Hope. Why must they tempt him in this way?
“A rabbi who can heal?
Is it possible?”
Surely not, only God can heal and he is certain the chasm between God and himself is too great. Is that not obvious from the sight of him? He shudders inwardly. Does he not wear his sin outwardly, legs and arms lifeless beside him? A paralytic. Worthless, he feels. He cannot come before God any more than he can stand on his own two feet.
He is immobilized.
He is separated.
Yet they carry him through the streets of Capernaum. His brother, a friend and two cousins. The bright sun blinds his eyes and the smell of fish permeates his nostrils, nauseating him. Helpless, he lies with eyes cast skyward.
“Where is my savior?” He dares to wonder. Who will reconcile Him to the God who can heal?
They stop several yards in front of a house, surrounded by a vast crowd of people. A damp sea filled breeze grazes his face. Eyes closed tight in prayer, he licks the salt of the sea from his chapped lips.
There are too many here,” he thinks, “too much sickness, too much sin.”
He cannot see through to the front door.
“There is no room for me,” he reasons. But a nagging hope inside his chest, a small seed of faith will not be ignored. It tugs, turns over in his heart and tugs again. If they cannot reach the door, they will find another way inside. He has come too far. He will not give up.
His friends press forward, through the drove of the waiting, the hoping. And then he is lifted, weightless, above the crowd. Upward, to the top of the house, then down again, through a hole they stop to cut in the roof. Slowly he is lowered, his mat supported by ropes of braided fiber and faith.
And then he is there, at the feet of the Rabbi. This man from Nazareth.
Does the earth shift? Yes, he is certain it does. For everything changes with a profound suddenness. He looks up from his mat and gazes upon the face of the Lamb.
“Mercy,” his voice rattles. No other words will come and his heart is engulfed by a holy silence.
Jesus looks upon the man and says: “Son, your sins are forgiven. . . “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Openly the man weeps. He crawls to his knees and shakily embraces the feet of the Lord. A sob of thanksgiving breaks forth from the pit of his belly and fills the air, a testament to all who stand witness.
“Jehovah-Rapha,” he exhales. The God who heals.
The preceding is a piece I wrote to share the story of Mark 2:1-5 after reading it to Wynn in his baby bible on Sunday morning. I love to take what may be only three lines in the bible and really envision the details in my mind to make it seem all the more “real” and relatable to my own walk and circumstances. I hope this story encourages someone today to know that whatever your circumstances and whatever obstacles are keeping you from the front door, dig deep and find the seedling of faith and hold tight-then find whatever way necessary to bring your burden to the feet of the Lamb.
Dig through the roof.
Tunnel your way up.
Crawl down the back alley in the dark.
Whatever it takes. He is waiting.
Godspeed in that journey,