Someday I might buy a motorcycle. Not now, but maybe when our kids are grown and don’t need me as much. And when Cindy has endured me enough for one lifetime.
Yes, I secretly admire motorcycles. I’ve never been one who willingly seeks adventure, but a part of me imagines the thrill of an open freeway at 70 mph. (I likely wouldn’t go much faster.) I haven’t been on a bike, though, since that fateful day when I was 5 — or I could have been 6.
My dad had taken my older brothers for rides on his motorcycle, and their exhilaration enticed me.
“Dad, can you take me?”
“I don’t know, Matt. You’re probably too little. I’ll get in trouble with your mom.”
He relented, strapped the oversized helmet on my head, and set me between his legs. Or did he set me in back? Surely he wouldn’t put me in back, the baby of the family and my mother’s favorite even then. Wherever I sat, I had the time of my young life that warm, summer evening. (It could have been fall or spring, for all I remember, since it’s always warm in Arizona.) We were nearly home when it happened.
Our neighborhood streets were a bit rough back then, and for some reason every corner was peppered with gravel. Our tires lost their grip at the corner of our street, and we fell. That same gravel responsible for our crash scraped my legs and arms. I cried and bled while Dad’s face registered fear, not because I was seriously injured but for the very reason he’d initially said no — my mom.
The King of Ointments
Dad’s remedy for every cut I remember as a kid was his favorite beer, Budweiser. That evening he was about to apply his salve when my mother discovered us, to her horror. Thankfully, she used something more soothing to clean and bandage me up. He’d done enough. That was the last I remember of the bike.
My father’s cleaning agent, as much as it burned, always worked. Perhaps if he’d given me a few sips it might not have burned as much.
I’ve been thinking about how painful the healing process can be and how we usually want a balm that comforts while it heals. Otherwise, we might not seek treatment at all.
Jesus happened upon a man who had been sick for 38 years, and he asked the man a strange question:
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” –John 5:6 ESV
Why wouldn’t the man want to be healed? Why ask such a question when the answer is glaringly obvious?
[pullquote]Feeling hurt is better than feeling nothing at all.[/pullquote]I think it’s because we’d rather endure our pain than begin the harsh process of healing. We get used to our bitterness and our anger and our anxiety. Loneliness itself becomes a welcome companion after time. We’d rather be alone than deal with the unforgiveness that shadows our hearts. And if we do take the risk of journeying toward healing, we want an anesthetic. We want to go to sleep then awaken whole. But healing seldom comes this way.
Several weeks ago I was headed to see some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, people I’d grown to resent. On the drive there I could feel my heart racing, and at once I tried to think of other things, to get my mind off what was about to happen. But then I stopped myself. Why wouldn’t I just allow myself to feel? Why was I intent on ignoring my anxiety, my rising blood pressure?
Instead of turning up the radio and hurrying to get it over with, I asked Jesus,
“Would you heal me?”
I invited him to join me in what would be a difficult encounter.
And I allowed myself
I’m glad I did, because I could sense God take my hurt, my brokenness, my bitterness, and apply his salve. It stung; indeed it stung. But feeling hurt is better than feeling nothing at all.
Hear the voice of your healer: Do you want to be healed?