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Two Four-Letter Words


Don't give up before the miracle happens. 

Fannie Flagg

There are two four-letter words that tripped up folks in Jesus' day and they continue to trip up a good many of us today. Oh, I'm not talking about swear words, I'm talking about two little words that can literally change the course of one's life. The first word is can't and just saying this word suggests to us limitations, defeat and resignation. The second word is won't, and it can render us unapproachable and unbendable.

When Jesus stepped into the lame man's world, he found not only a broken body lying there by the pool, he found a broken soul. Although the man lies by that pool in Bethesda looking for a miracle, he believed in his heart that it would never happen to him.Because he felt that no one cared about him, he assumed that God did not care about him either; why else would he still be in this mess after thirty-eight years? Though the man's legs were crippled and made walking a difficulty, his heart and mind had also become crippled. His feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and despair paralyzed him, life seemed to hold only impossibilities and insurmountable odds. His life of futility left him numb with defeat. Giving up hope, he had resigned himself to a mat of helplessness. When Jesus asked if he wanted to get well his response was… I can't.

The other group of men Jesus encountered had a different sort of infirmity altogether… (although they themselves wouldn't have seen it as such). These guys were crippled by a control issue and it rendered them inflexible and unteachable. Pride had paralyzed them into thinking that their manmade way was better than God's way of humility, compassion and generosity. As John Ortberg in his book, Love beyond Reason points out, it isn't that the Pharisees failed to see, it's that they refused to do so. They tightly closed the eyes and the ears of their hearts. They were unable to see the needs of those around them and unwilling to hear truth when it was spoken. They had created for themselves a spiritual quarantine, a greenhouse for pride and self-righteousness to grow and flourish. The Pharisees' determination and stubbornness had left them spiritually handicapped. Then when Jesus asked them to believe the truth of his words, they adamantly responded, "We won't."

The infirmity of an "I can't" or "I won't" attitude isn't limited to the 1st century when Jesus walked the earth. Christians down through the millennium have been debilitated by this kind of attitude as well.

During my journey with God, I have experienced the crippling effect of giving in to despair and resigning myself to defeat. I know what the lame man felt like. I've been there myself. The dominating voice in my head all through my childhood and teen years was my dad's. Although his words may have been unintentional at times, the constant theme was the same: you are worthless, unlovable and will never measure up no matter what you do. Those words became a part of me, and I believed them. Crazy thing is, even as an adult those words still have power to trip me up from time-to-time and I'll find myself once again limping along the path with the Savior.

Just like he did with the lame man, Jesus steps into the midst of those debilitating places and I hear him speaking over the old voices in my head, Julie, do you want to get well? Do you want to stay where you are, all crumpled up in a heap? Are you willing to just limp along the path of life with Me or will you let Me teach you how to really live?

I have also allowed pride to paralyze me when I've dug in my heels and become as unbendable as a 2х4. I have often thought that my way is the best way, and I have exhibited a stubborn attitude about how I like things done.

Jesus also comes when pride starts to paralyze me and he says, Julie, please listen to Me. I'm telling you the truth. You need to humble yourself and hand over what little control you think you have. Are you content to settle in this barren wasteland of pride and rigidity? I have so much more to show you if you'll only allow Me to.

Some of us have been laying by the pool of Bethesda for far too long. Jesus is asking you,"Do you want to get well? Will you pick up your mat and leave your limping behind and follow Me?"

Others of us have gotten a little rigid in our ways and that's created an unteachable spirit within us. Jesus is asking you if you would be willing to humble yourself and let him teach you how to really live.

Get up…

Rise up and take immediate and dramatic action

Become attentive to the dangerous position you are in and quit

that previous position

Pick up your mat

Do not leave yourself an option to lay back down


Go, live

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We Heart Matters Publishing gals care about women. Their joys. Their struggles. Their everyday, ordinary lives. We write from those very same places hoping to uplift, challenge and encourage your soul and deepen your faith.

The Heart Matters Gals

  • Julie


    I’m turning 62 this year. I can hardly believe it myself. But, I’ve decided that I no longer want to live comfortably. I want to live with a spirit of adventure like I had in the past. To be unafraid of what’s new or different. I want to remain so open to the Spirit of the living God that his love compels me to go wherever he leads me.
  • LuAnn


    I am passionate about people leaning into all that Jesus is. You. Me. Us. Journeying together with God. This is my greatest blessing. And now that my kiddos are out on their own, I’m learning to navigate my new normal. And I am finding there is life after little ones and teens after all!
  • Emilie


    I am currently finishing my degree in relational communications and plan to graduate in the spring of 2020!! I am thankful I have had time to grow, heal, appreciate a slower pace of living, and to invest more time into relationships with family, friends, and God. Through this process I am learning what I want to prioritize in my life and figuring out ways to make that happen. Most of all, I am figuring out that life is all about process, taking steps closer to where I want to be and celebrating the little victories but also accepting that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way.
  • Sally


    Sally Cranham is a singer and writer from the UK. She uses biblical narrative and her own experience to write deeply into the heart of the human condition. She currently works as a volunteer for SourceMN as their Arts Outreach Coordinator and has lived as a Residential Volunteer at Source’s anti-trafficking transitional annex alongside women who have come out of the life of prostitution.
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