(Inspired by yesterday’s service)
Four men bring their paralytic friend to a house where Jesus is teaching, but can’t get through the mass of people surrounding Him. Fully determined they climb to the roof of the house by an outside stairway. After removing roof tiles and prying up the mud and wattle, they lower the paralytic’s pallet through the opening. Jesus looks up through falling debris to see a pallet being lowered, and observes the faces of four men filled with stark hungering need for their friend’s healing. Instead of saying “you are healed” to the paralytic, Jesus announces, “friend, your sins are forgiven. Rise up, and pick up your mat. Go home” (Luke 5:17-24).
Just as our pastor preached yesterday morning those four friends brought their friend to Jesus for healing, but that was not their friend’s real need. Because their friend couldn’t walk or take himself to Jesus, they moved heaven and earth to get him to this man who could heal him. But Jesus looked beyond what those four friends perceived the man’s need to be and saw his real need instead. The paralytic needed forgiveness, and a renewed heart. So Jesus spoke the very thing that the man really needed to hear–that his sins were forgiven. Then the physical miracle happened. He stood up, and picked up his mat and walked.
What you perceive is the real need of your heart is not always what God perceives it to be. A dear friend picked up her mat and walked yesterday. She did what only God could have done as a result of meeting a real need in her life. Just weeks previously God had revived her heart following the death of her son, and she knew it was time to share with the church the love of God which had brought her from the deepest despair to the greatest peace. Just as life was too much for the paralytic it might have been too much for her if she had not discovered her real need at the feet of Jesus. Praise was the very thing that God knew she needed. His direction came to her in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” She began to praise God for the gift of her child, and prayed that his death would not be in vain. A miracle happened. Her real need was met, and she stood up, walked, and shared the message God had burned in her heart. She has been miraculously revived with the life of the Holy Spirit. Joy has returned. Power and purpose have claimed her life.
What do you believe is your real need? He knows what you really need. Our agenda and our plans become important to us, but He knows they don’t really matter. My friend discovered what really matters. She knows the value that God has added to her life. When we lose our life for Him, we really find who we can become in Him. Do you want to have His peace that passes human understanding? Do you want His joy which gives you strength in all circumstances? Do you seek healing of heart and mind? You must seek Him to know what your real need is. Seeking God means you are preparing your heart for His love to change you. It means you are ready to receive His need as your own. If you seek you shall find it. Focus on your real need as my friend focused on hers, and He will take care of the lesser needs in your life. He will also lift you from your mat, and you will also walk in His love and power.
The paralytic whose sins were forgiven got up praising God and walked. He had a renewed life with purpose. My friend who shared God’s heart yesterday has renewed life with His purpose. Each time our pastor burns with God’s message he is a vessel of renewed purpose that inspires us to open our hearts to the refining fire of the Holy Spirit. He shared a quote from John Wesley. “I set myself on fire and people just come to see me burn.” Do we burn with His love as much as His love burns for us? Have we broken through that roof seeking Him to discover our real need? He looks through all the falling debris of our attempts to reach Him, and with loving grace reveals our suffering, our sins, and our failures. Then He bids us come to Him. His altar awaits for each heart to seek their real heart’s need. His altar awaits to draw each of us to a deeper experience of prayer and purpose. His grace is not a commodity to be used. His grace is His living presence that changes you and changes me. Our real need is Him–alive and well and reviving our hearts. Then we shall pick up our mat and walk in His miracle.