Obstacles are all around us. Our challenge is to see over, under, around, past or through them not allowing these to overtake us. Webster (1913) defines obstacle as: “That which stands in the way, or opposes; anything that hinders progress; a hindrance; an obstruction, physical or moral.” Are you facing an obstacle(s) right now? Maybe it’s relational, business, health, school, church, or responsibility related. When you try to take a couple of steps forward, you’re caught off balance and retreat a couple of steps back due to the magnitude of the obstacle.
I’m reminded of the healing at Bethesda. Jesus encounters an invalid of thirty-eight years. He lay upon a mat surrounded by others in similar condition – some blind, lame, or paralyzed. Jesus took special notice of this man engaging him in conversation. Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?” What an obvious question? The crowds sat waiting for the stirring of the waters. The first to reach the stirred waters hoped for healing. For years, this man had his hopes dashed. Never able to make it to the water in time; someone always beat him to the pool. I’m sure he’s tired having accepted his infirmity and perhaps given up any hope of healing. He sits and waits never making it to the pool’s edge in time – always somewhere between second to last place. His response to Jesus is one filled with despair as he describes his obstacles. He says, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I’m trying to get in, someone goes down ahead of me.” Didn’t Jesus ask him if he wanted to be healed? Didn’t he just respond to Jesus by naming his obstacles? Call me strange, but I would have thought a simple “YES!” would be in order.
Here’s what I think, sometimes it’s as if life’s obstacles incapacitate us. We’re immobilized by challenges we’re personally unable to overcome. It’s like the obstacles, rather than Christ, capture our gaze. We miss Jesus due to the obstacles. He is there, our very source of strength, purpose, meaning, life, and direction. Jesus is asking, “Do you want healing, direction, solution, and resolve?” In our reply, all we’re able to regurgitate is this list of obstacles that have eclipsed our vision and passion while consuming our thoughts. Jesus wants for you to quit staring at the obstacles and begin to gaze at Him. Too often we think the “miracle” can only be realized by overcoming a set of obstacles when perhaps Jesus has an entirely different direction for us. The man was never carried and placed into the water for healing, Jesus simply told him to get up, take his mat, and walk. His healing came about through an entirely different scenario; it had nothing to do with the pool. Instead of focusing on the obstacles, begin to focus on Christ. Remember, God is pretty creative and doesn’t have to work within the confines of your self-imposed scenario.