Blog #7 A Surprisingly Great Gift
One of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received was from my older brother the summer before I went to college. He gave me a fishing tackle box. Now, I know that doesn’t sound very exciting. When I first unwrapped it, I had the same reaction you are having right now. Huh? A tackle box?
But then I opened it.
The compartments were filled with office supplies. Pens, pencils, scissors, a stapler, a tape dispenser and all sorts of necessary refills. He shared that when you go to college you forget all the little things you need. What was once an easy trip to the kitchen drawer is now a lengthy walk to a local store. Having a few years under his college belt, he knew what I would need, and he wanted me to be prepared. I can’t tell you how handy that tackle box was! But, years later, I grew to appreciate the gift even more. The thoughtfulness behind the tackle box meant the world to me. It was a sincere, loving gift wrapped in an unlikely package.
The Bible has a few of those gifts. At first glance they don’t look too amazing, but later you realize how thoughtful (and life changing!) they can be. There is one in particular I like, found in the second chapter of Mark.
The story is about four friends who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Jesus was teaching to a packed house, but that did not deter them. They dug a hole in the roof and lowered him down. Obnoxiously hilarious, in my opinion. Jesus is in the middle of his three-point sermon and suddenly the crowd collectively looks up. What a sight! But Jesus took it in stride and put his message on hold. He approached the paralytic and made a surprise statement: Your sins are forgiven.
Wait?! What?! Sins are forgiven? What about healing his legs? I mean, c’mon! Look how far the friends carried him! They cut a hole in the roof, for crying out loud! I know forgiveness is a good thing and all, but the man’s been paralyzed! What about the legs? (spoiler alert: Jesus does heal his legs. About two minutes after He forgives his sins. But let’s tarry for a moment at the pre-walking part of the story.)
Forgiveness can definitely look like a tackle box on the outside, but when you open it you find its powerful counterpart: repentance. By themselves they don’t do much, but in combination they’re pretty powerful. Together they can remove guilt, dissolve shame, break bad habits and right things gone wrong. They also heal, mend and deepen relationships, making them stronger than ever before. Nothing compares to being set free from the shackles of regret.
After forgiving the man, Jesus heals his body. The story says the he “immediately stood up and went home praising God.” I used to think his excitement came from his ability to walk, but the more I read it the more I wonder if his joy came from having a clean heart. I know for me, letting go of my mistakes, hurtful words, and the grief over their consequences is worth more than I can put into words. Who knows what guilt or shame the paralytic was carrying while his friends were carrying him.
We often come to Jesus wanting an external change in life, but He knows that sometimes the greater gift is one of the internal variety. And here is the amazing thing: repentance and forgiveness is always available to us.
It is a tackle box waiting to be opened.
Be Intentional Is there a regret you are carrying around? Is there someone you need to forgive? Take a moment to do business in your own heart. God can and wants to set you free.