As many of you know, I write this blog about a week in advance. On Monday of this week, I underwent the fourth surgery on my knee. As a result, I am a little sore, a little "lame", and a lot bored! I really depend on my "walking" to keep me as active as possible - getting hither and yon is a big deal to me as I don't do "sedentary" very well! I could not imagine being crippled to the point of being unable to walk at all, especially if this had been from birth.
There was a man in Lystra who couldn't walk. He sat there, crippled since the day of his birth. He heard Paul talking, and Paul, looking him in the eye, saw that he was ripe for God's work, ready to believe. So he said, loud enough for everyone to hear, "Up on your feet!" The man was up in a flash—jumped up and walked around as if he'd been walking all his life. (Acts 14:8-10 The Message)
Paul is on one of his missionary journeys and stops in a region known as Lystra. One man caught his eye - a man crippled since birth. Paul recognizes something in this man - a desire, a hope, some element of faith. In this moment of eye-to-eye exchange, Paul saw the man as "ripe for God's work". He was ready to make a change in his life. The man sat there day after day, crippled and unable to walk.
Imagine our own lives before Christ as just this - crippled. In the most literal sense, the word crippled means anything within our lives which interferes with normal activities. Now, in order to understand just how "crippled" we were before Christ, we need to recognize how we were created.
In the beginning, God created man and woman - perfect, holy, and whole. After the fall, man choosing to live by his own standards and not God's - things changed. No longer were we perfect - as we had been flawed by willful disobedience. No longer were we holy - as we were choosing to believe a lie instead of trusting in the truth. No longer were we whole - as we now had a void where God's presence once dwelt.
Now, imagine trying to "walk" without perfect balance. When you look at a person who struggles with "balance", what do you observe? They stumble a lot, don't they? This is what sin did to us - it affected our spiritual "balance" - leaving us to stumble terribly! How does a "non-animated" paralyzed extremity affect our ability to walk? It affects our balance, doesn't it? Why? God made us to walk on two legs, with ten toes, two arms to assist with balance, and a straight spine to bear us up.
Sin is like a paralyzed extremity - it affects our balance - leaving us "lame" or "crippled" - unable to be involved in the "normal activities" God desires for his children. This is why God focuses so much on our obedience of will - he knows if he wins our heart, he will be able to affect our balance in a positive way. In turn, we "return" to the type of "normal activity" God desires of his creation - intimate, close, and lasting relationship with him.
Now, getting back to our "crippled" man in our passage - Paul saw he was ready for a change. There is nothing more exciting to see than a person ready to change! We often are content to live in our "crippled" state - but when we become discontent with our condition, God is able to begin his work! The words of Paul are direct - "Up on your feet"! God's words are just as direct to us - "When anyone is in Christ, it is a whole new world. The old things are gone; suddenly, everything is new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 ERV) A whole new world opens up to us when we are ready to forsake our "crippled" condition. Until we make this connection - looking eye-to-eye with Jesus - we live crippled. As quickly as we "connect" - the change is made!
Now, don't you imagine this man had some "rubbery" legs after all these years living crippled? Probably - but in Christ - all things are made new! At first, we stumble a little, but in time, the affects of living crippled begin to show less and less until we are one day no longer bearing any evidence of our crippled state. This is good news, indeed! Look at how God's Word affected this man's life - it powerfully changed his condition. He walked as though he had been walking all his life.
This is how Jesus works - he touches our lives with his power and creates us anew. What we could not even imagine as possible in our past condition becomes reality in our present - and then some! He makes us walk as we never imagined possible - strong, secure, and balanced! Now, that is GOOD NEWS!