Happy Summer, faithful readers. I hope you all are enjoying the season and getting some needed rest time. I hope this for you primarily because we have, for the most part, NOT been getting our needed rest. Such is the life with two tiny humans and we are rather matter of fact about it all. We know the sleeplessness won’t last forever and we’re fighting the good fight with as much joy as we know how. In the big picture, we know we are well.
Before Ethan was born, my mom told me often about the fact that one child plus another child, will feel like more than two. She is not wrong about this. HA! Sometimes it feels like the minute you get one child situated and asleep the other one has a problem and you could swear on a dear one’s grave that these two have coordinated a game of “keep them awake” tag until the morning sun comes up. Some days you throw in the towel on getting any quality sleep and slump down the stairs to make the strongest pot of coffee possible. I think the hardest part for me right now is never having a minute to just sit down with your own thoughts. I find this particularly problematic because my career of choice actually requires me to sit down with my own thoughts and write about them. In ways, I’d prefer, that make sense to an adult English speaking audience.
Since Ethan arrived, I’ve made the decision to go “all-in” as a working writer. I’ve felt a calling towards writing since college and I knew once he was born that if I didn’t really go for it with both feet I would always wonder. Of course, going “all-in” has some severe limitations in this season. With no income yet, I have to find cracks of time to write in and sometimes those cracks get swept away by a kid that can’t sleep. Honestly, I think more than anything, my decision to go for a writing career has been more of a decision to say “no” to a bunch of other good things I could do in spare time that might distract from the goal of pursuing my calling as a writer.
All of this had me returning to John chapter 5 last week to read the story of the healing at the pool of Bethesda. I swear this is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. A man who has been sick for 38 years is sitting by a pool of water that he hopes will heal him. Of course we could mock the man for thinking that water could save him but after 38 years I’m certain we’d all do the same. There’s not a one of us who would not turn over every last rock to try to find some relief after literal decades of suffering.
So here’s this man, wanting to get into a pool, and Jesus arrives to ask him a super direct question: “Do you want to be made well?”
I love the man’s response because it’s so relatable: “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.”
Do you see whats happening here as clearly as I do? The man didn’t really answer Jesus’ question? Jesus asked him a simple question that would clarify his deep desire and the man responded with all the things that were getting in the way of a short-term and therefore short-sighted task: stepping into a pool that, we know, likely wouldn’t get him any closer to healing than anything else he had tried to date.
Jesus doesn’t waste any time. After 38 years, he knows this man needs Mercy with a capital “M”. So he doesn’t press him like he might other individuals he encounters. He tells him “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk!” and the man does only to throw the Jewish leaders into a tizzy, starting a fight about what is right or wrong to do on the Sabbath. (Side note: this is a very typical move for people with power who don’t partner with the Holy Spirit – they nit pick your every move, looking to discredit your wholeness. The best answer for these types of people after you are healed from a season of uncertainty is to just keep on walking with your mat under your armpit. LIKE A BOSS.) (additional side note: I’m getting so amped up as I write this. Did I mention that I love this story? Well, I just love it. And you should love it too.)
Clearly, I’m getting off track here. Let me just tell you that this story came to mind like a total grace bomb on a night last week when I felt like the ship was going down. We were at the height of our summer kiddo shenanigans last week when all four of us caught a summer cold. Andy and I felt awful and wanted nothing more than to curl up and go to sleep but instead found ourselves dealing with two kids who only managed to feel the real symptoms of their colds at night when they went to sleep. One night, I went into Ellie’s room and laid down next to her, my mind drifting anxiously to the commitment I’d made to write more in the coming months. I found myself talking in my mind like the man in the story. “Every last brain cell I have, and probably some of my neighbor’s, is wrapped up in these kids right now.” “There’s just no time to write. Ever.” “Who even wants to write anyway? At this point I’d go for a week or two of sleep with a package of Sudafed and some throat lozenges.”
Then the pool of Bethesda came to mind, kind of out of nowhere. I recalled “Do you want to be made well?” which might as well be another version of my favorite question of all of Jesus’ questions: “What do you want?” I could feel my heart answer: “You know. I want to write beautiful things with you. I want these kids and this marriage and all the joys and difficulties that come with them.” All I can say is that the Holy Spirit responded in the same way he usually does. With the memory that the man who was sick for 38 years was cured followed by a peaceful and authoritative silence that felt like this:
“I already know, kiddo. Don’t stop answering my question. The fruit will roll out, bit by bit. And it will all be exactly what we’ve always wanted.”
I love God.