Moving into the new, leaving the old

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The start of a new year in many ways has become a clich.

The TV is blaring with commercials for gyms and home workout programs that will pump up the desire that this is the year to finally get in shape. Sale ads are full of storage boxes and storage solutions to finally tackle that out-of-control closet and garage.

Taking steps to change the way we live is good and noble. Certainly the start of a new year is a great time to make changes to our lives. Yet as many of us have learned, usually through failed efforts from the previous year, real lasting change is more than buying a box. Real change is moving into the new that demands leaving the old.

The New Testament tells the story of a man who made every indication that he wanted his life to change, that he wanted things to be radically different from what they really were. Yet when he was given the opportunity to embrace the change that he sought, he chose to remain the same.

The gospel of John introduces us to a man at the Pool of Bethesda who had been paralyzed for 38 years. The waters of this pool, probably a hot spring, held medicinal value, so much so that built around them were colonnades in which many men and women with all sorts of illnesses would lie and wait for the waters to begin to move, then they would make their way into the water.

Jesus approached him and asked, "Do you want to get well?" This seems like a cruel and unusual question. From his location and company he is giving every indication he wants to get well. Jesus sees something we don't. Jesus heals him, he gets up and walks.

Later that day though Jesus finds the man living the same way he was when he was paralyzed. Showing what Jesus already knew, this man's true paralysis wasn't in his legs but in his heart. He appeared to want to be well, but he did not leave behind what was keeping him unwell.

God may be at work in your life taking what is broken and making it whole. We must choose daily what he desires over our known brokenness. Becoming whole in home, family, spiritual and physical health demands moving into the new by leaving the old.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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