“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:11)
At C1, we’re focusing on families. We’re focusing on families because God does, from one end of the book to the other. We are convinced; Change the family, change the world. As a result of this focus, our thoughts are drifting home.
I’m following (at a distance) one brave man’s journey through addiction to sobriety and sanity… and home.
Heroin is a hater unlike any other, but God is doing something in this guy’s life. From a treatment center where the battle is being staged, he writes about his struggle with one goal in mind: going home. A young daughter waits. Friends wait. Family waits. Dreams and daylight and unrealized destiny all wait… at home.
I was thinking about my friend as I read the first few verses of Mark 2. What a moment. Jesus looked at the paralytic and said; “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Just like that, huh, Jesus? Wow.
Not all of our struggles are settled when we come to Jesus, but our salvation is, and that’s one fight we can’t fight. The one thing we cannot do for ourselves, Jesus has already done; atone.
When you’re trying to get up from being paralyzed, the first steps are the most important. We have no record in the story of this man asking for forgiveness, but we are told that Jesus “knows the heart.” Apparently without saying a word audibly, this guy repents. And then Jesus delivers a money line.
“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” (vs.11)
Let’s break it down.
“I tell you”
Jesus can talk like that. He’s Jesus.
Stand up, straighten up, rise up, and get up. There’s a time to kneel, there’s a time to lay on a mat and beg, and there’s a time to get up. The world’s full of people who made a home out of the mat. Not you, get up.
“take your mat”
Roll up the junk you been sleeping, eating, begging, and living on and take it with you. I don’t want you to ever forget where you were or who you were when we met. Show it to other people and tell them about me.
There’s life to be lived, work to be done, laughter to be soaked up, tears to be shared, love to be given, and lessons to be learned back there… at the scene of the attack. At the tomb the devil prepared for you I want to have a party.
Three decades ago I sat on a bar stool in Chicago. I was lost. I was an addict. I was trying to figure out how to sort out the mess that was my life. Beside me sat a man I had just met at the bar. Together we watched a ball game and talked about life. He was older. He was wiser, looked successful and seemed to have his act together. He asked me a few questions as we made polite conversation. We laughed at a few things and pondered some of life’s mysteries. It's what guys do at a bar. Then, abruptly, he stood up, grabbed his coat, looked me straight in the eye and said; “Young man, you need to go home.” I never saw him again.
I was speechless. With that, he turned and walked out the door. I got up and did what he suggested. I’m really glad I did. I think about that guy almost every time I celebrate a birthday or Christmas with my wife and kids, and I am grateful.
I don’t know where my friend will end up living. Geography is not the issue here. He may well eventually relocate to start life over. But soon his first few steps off of an airplane will take him, with rolled up mat in hand, home.
May God help us as the Body of Christ to help thousands of fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, and grandchildren find their way home. Most aren’t addicts, but their lost. Many have never physically left, but their hearts did, and out there on the road somewhere, Jesus longs to meet them and send them home.
God help us to be as faithful, courageous, innovative, unified, and determined as a few friends of a paralyzed man were 2,000 years ago when they cut a hole in a roof and got their buddy to Jesus. We absolutely, positively, cannot be anything less.