After a few days, Jesus returned to Capernaum, and word got around that he was back home. A crowd gathered, jamming the entrance so no one could get in or out. He was teaching the Word. They brought a paraplegic to him, carried by four men. When they weren’t able to get in because of the crowd, they removed part of the roof and lowered the paraplegic on his stretcher. Impressed by their bold belief, Jesus said to the paraplegic, “Son, I forgive your sins.” (Mark 2:1-5)
As we stop for a moment together today to spend a little time with Jesus, I want to pose a question to each of us - who would be your stretcher carriers? We all have friends, but who among your friends would actually push past the crowd, drag your sorry self to the top of the roof, deconstruct the obstacles in your way, and then ensure you were front and center with Jesus? Think on that one a bit - the ones you consider to be your friends will matter most when you stand in need of barriers being removed in your life - maybe not physical ones, but certainly the spiritual ones! They heard. They carried. They climbed. They removed. They lowered. They held him. These are some pretty awesome friends, are they not? Tenacious, dedicated, and totally engaged in their relationship with their friend. Nothing, but nothing, could stand in their way - they sought the best for their friend and no barrier constructed could stand in the way of their getting him front and center in order to receive the best from the best! I daresay these are the kind of friends we want 'carrying us', aren't they?
We all stand in need - some more than others - some more frequently than others. The truth of the matter is that we all probably stand equally in need - it is just that some of our 'needs' are more visible than other needs. Some of us do a great job concealing our 'crippling needs', but it doesn't negate their presence in our lives. Wouldn't it be great to know we have the type of friends who notice that need? Who take it upon themselves to get us to the place where our need can be met fully and completely! We face all manner of barriers in our daily walk - most of them we simply walk around, but some of them actually are bigger than we can avoid. Think of the anthill - we can maneuver our way to avoid it, right? Think of the mountain range - we might be struck by the immensity of the impossibility of going around that one! Who do you know in your life that would dig a tunnel through it by spending hours in prayer for you? Who would find the safest and quickest passage from here to there? These are the relationships that you want to nurture and keep.
The man may have had faith for his healing, but he had no way to remove the barriers to that healing on his own. He needed his friends - his 'stretcher carriers' and 'barrier removers'. We likely have faith for our healing, but it could just be we need to let someone in our lives carry our stretcher, reaching out to remove the barrier that stands between us and the healing. Many will be too fearful to admit they are stuck on the stretcher - some will reach out because they know without the aid of their 'stretcher carrying friends', there will be no healing. Healing isn't just a matter of our own effort - sometimes the greatest healing comes when we are willing to allow another to carry us a bit until we are front and center with Jesus. Just sayin!