He sat across from me, bouncing his knee nervously, twisting his napkin in his hands. “I don’t know why I do this… over and over again. I’m such a fool. But I guess that’s just me.”
I’ve played that scene so many times as a pastor. Sometimes, I’m the guy listening, helping the addict bounce back. Again. Other times, I’ve played the other side of the table… beating myself up for another failure… trying to figure out why I’m stuck.
If you know what that feels like, you need to hear Jesus’ almost-insulting question in John 5:6: “Do you want to be well?” Now, you may not feel insulted by that question… but the guy Jesus asked had been crippled for 38 years. Sitting by a pool that legend said was a healing pool, trying to get in, and failing… for 38 years.
I think I’d have been peeved. Miffed. Ticked. At least grumpy. “Well, of COURSE I want to be well. Why do you think I’m sitting here?!”
The disabled guy didn’t get angry; but he didn’t really answer the question, either. “Sir,” the invalid replied, “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, NIV)
Did you see it? He offers an excuse. Before we get too “grumpy cat” with Jesus for asking a stupid question, let’s take a second look. Maybe this isn’t a stupid question — it might be the most pertinent of all for people who have been stuck.
Excuses are anti-responsibility. And consequently, they are anti-wellness.
But after sitting on stuck in our life for a while, we can stop seeing possibilities. Instead, we only see the excuses we’ve created to dull the pain of being stuck.
We start seeing excuses as friends that dull the pain, instead of enemies that keep us stuck.
You’ve lived life doubting Jesus and believing your excuses. It’s time to believe Jesus and doubt your excuses.
This is the subject of a message that I preached recently at our church. If you’d like more thoughts on this, here it is:
What about you? What are your favorite excuses — ones that you need to tell to take a hike?