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Monday, April 21, 2008

The Carrying Kind




Do you have good friends? The kind of friends who are really there for you, would do anything for you? Do you have friends you can count on?

I have been blessed to have some friends who LOVE me. I mean they believe only the best about me and pour me an extra dose of grace on a daily basis.

My siestahs and I met in college and try to get together at least once a year, preferably for this retreat that I keep talking about.
These lovely ladies know everything about me and yet, they love me. They hear my junk and wade through it with me while holding hands.

When I am too weak to hold my hands up to God, they do it for me. When I am too tired to pack my bags to go on a ladies retreat to receive much needed ministry from the Holy Spirit, they pack my bags, load my car and drive me. These ladies have held my babies and held my Kleenex. I have lived in dorms, apartments and houses with these ladies.

We've been through LOTS together.

Majors.

Singleness.
Careers.
Marriage.
No marriage.

Babies.

No babies.

Infertility.

Divorce.

Uncertainty.

Fear.

Grief.

Hardship.

Joy.

Celebration.

Praise.

Contentment.

Lots.

As I recently studied the story of the paraplegic carried by his friends to meet Jesus in Luke 5, I thought of my gal pals. (I hope you love hearing this story of amazing friendship as much as I do. See post titled "She's Not Heavy...She's My Siestah" from last week.) Do you have friends that carry you to the presence of God? Do you carry your friends into his presence? A good friend is truly a rare treasure.

This man's friends probably heard Jesus was in town, ran to their friend's house, made a extra strong, easy to carry with only minimal blisters stretcher to load their paralyzed friend on and had to probably run or walk as fast as they could to see Jesus.

When they arrived there was such a great crowd, they couldn't get close. They were excited. They were together. They were going to Jesus, the King of Kings, the Great Physician! Hurry!

They couldn't get in the front door because people were pushing. They had to protect their friend.

Love sees with clear eyes and really, what one person's eyes see as impossible, two or three people's eyes see a solution.

The roof!

Nobody was on the roof so they quickly climbed the steps straight up to the roof. They could hear Jesus. His voice was so confident, full of authority and so full of love. Their aching hands and backs suddenly felt better just hearing his voice. They suddenly knew they were doing the right thing by dragging, literally, their friend here to see this man. Who was he?

One friend took his hunting knife and began cutting. As soon as the others saw, they began using their hands to help.

A commotion was beginning to take place inside the house below them. They kept working frantically, excitedly. They were so close. They had to hurry before they were stopped.

As the roof began to cave in and rain down debris on Jesus and his irritated audience, the men began to lower their beloved friend. Slowly. Carefully. Lovingly.

One began to speak. "Jesus, we knew if we could get him close enough to see your face..."

How Jesus must have been touched. Seeing such sacrifice, such unity, such love among friends is rare.

What does Jesus do?

As the friends are holding him with tired, aching arms, raw, blistered hands, stooped, strained backs and expectant, loving hearts, Jesus speaks.

Lungs deflate, hearts race, breaths catch.

Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven."

What?!?

They brought him to be healed. To walk. They had used all their strength on the way there. How would they ever be able to carry him home?

Sins?

Forgiven?

People in the crowd begin to shout.

Insults are hurled.

Again, who is this Jesus?

They came seeking a miracle.

Jesus drew them to their own heart's sinful condition. Yes, they loved their friend. But, they also figured in all their humanness exactly what their crippled friend needed most...That is to walk.

Then slowly the friends began to understand one by one.

They thought their friend's greatest problem was his physical condition.

Jesus showed them it was his attitude about his physical condition. The heart can humble itself before God recognizing who He is no matter what the physical condition.

At those words, the paralyzed man knew who Jesus was. Who Jesus is.

And, Jesus healed him. Immediately he jumped up and began praising God...because he was in His presence, fully healed from the inside out. What a joyful journey home these friends must have had! Their great joy must have fueled the group. I bet there wasn't a sore back in the band of friends.

One of my favorite parts of the the retreats I keep talking about is the journey home. It just flies by as we share what amazing things our God has done healing us from the inside out. We leave each other's presence encouraged beyond measure. We leave with hearts full of priceless treasures amazed again at the goodness of our God.

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