Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tear the Roof Off!

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." MARK 2:1-5

The crowds had started to gather early that morning. Many of those assembled in this house had walked miles to get here. Some came as families, others came alone. Some in the crowd were wealthy, while others came with merely the clothes on their back. But they all came and they were there for one reason: to hear a home-town boy who had created quite a stir. You see, Jesus was “back home” and the crowds had come to see and hear him. In fact, scripture tells us in Mark 2 that “so many had gathered that there was no room left.”

As Jesus was teaching in this mass of people, there was a disturbance in the room. It’s important to note that Jesus was used to people coming to him. On one occasion he had felt the woman reach through the masses to touch the hem of his robe so that she could be healed. Another time he had told a Samaritan woman drawing water from Jacob’s well that if she would drink from the Living Water, she would never thirst again. He had healed the sick, raised the dead and made the cripple walk again…but this disturbance was different. On this day, the disturbance came from above, not below.

The Bible tells us that four men had brought a paraplegic to see Jesus, and that they could not get to him because of the crowd. So what did they do? They climbed on the roof, tore a whole in the ceiling, and lowered the man to Jesus.

As most of you know, over the past couple of years my family has been dealing with struggles with cancer, both with my mom and my mother-in-law. Wendy’s mom, Barbara, lost that battle but secured the eternal victory this past year. My mom continues to fight through treatments. This story from Mark 2 is an incredible reminder of the power of Christ in our lives. Also, I believe the actions of these four men teach us some important truths, especially for those of us who serve or have served as caregivers to family members.

First, their love was obvious. There is no doubt that these men loved this crippled man. Although scripture does not state it, I believe these men were family members. In Biblical times it was not uncommon for extended families to live in one house. Over the past two years we have had my mother and mother-in-law living with us at different times. And having walked that road, there were times I would have done anything to get them out of my house! One thing is certain: they loved this man and were willing to make personal sacrifices in order to get him to Jesus. They had carried him on a stretcher for who knows how far. They gave up being able to be in the middle of the crowd…because they were standing on the roof. As caregivers, we often sacrifice our own comfort in order to care for our loved ones. That is a sign of true love. These men loved this paraplegic, and it was obvious.

Second, their persistence was inspiring. One thing I’ve learned on our personal journey is that some days you have to make yourself keep going. This whole caregiving thing is physically tiring and distressful. Most of us continually face nights of little sleep, a good report from the doctor followed by a bad one, one step forward and two steps back. When faced with obstacle after obstacle, the initial impulse is to give up. When faced with the large crowds, these men could have said, “there is no way to get him in!”…and could have gone home. But that’s not what happened. Instead, they tore the roof off the house…what creativity! They loved this man so much they were willing to do whatever it took to get him to our Lord. For caregivers, persistence is so very important. On the days when it would be easier to give up, we have to pray for persistence, strength and at times creativity to keep going. They loved this man, and they were persistent and creative in getting him to Christ.

Third, and most important, the results were eternal. The Bible tell us that when Jesus saw the faith of these men, that he said to the crippled man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” The first action of Jesus was to address his spiritual need, not his physical paralysis. If we are not careful, as caregivers we can get so focused on the physical needs of our loved ones that we overlook the most important thing: their spiritual condition. Joy, and true healing, does not come from our physical condition. There are a lot of physically healthy people who no hope, while there are countless who are terminally ill with an eternal health that goes far beyond this life. Our role as caregivers is to focus on the eternal, while caring for the temporal.

As caregivers, we must be loving, persistent and focused on the eternal. When we do that, this journey that is often painful, tiring, and hopeless, can become one that is characterized by peace, joy and hope. May that be our goal as caregivers.

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