Excuses are abundant. They co-exist alongside justification and rationalization. I’ve been guilty of uttering too many…especially when it relates to taking responsibility for my health [diet and exercise]. By this time, many of those who vowed to finally get in shape and lose weight with the New Year may have abandoned their efforts.
If you, like me, belong to a health club, you probably noticed the numbers dwindling away over the first couple of weeks. I didn’t, because I wasn’t there. I had a lot of excuses: it’s too crowded after the New Year, waiting until after I get back from writer’s retreat and vacation, too cold, too tired, too busy…the list is endless, and the truth is I hadn’t made it a priority. Things I want to do always seem to get done. The things I have to do find time in my schedule, even if I am out-of-town.
The excuses for healthy eating were no different: can’t resist ___________ (fill in the blank), special occasion (even if I have to make it up), stressed, bored, easier to go out / eat fast food…and the list goes on.
And then, God used Scripture and a Sunday school lesson to force me to face reality. In studying through the gospel of John, I am using “Running on Empty” by Arron Chambers to prepare my teaching notes and his treatment of this passage caught (no, it actually demanded) my attention and exposed my own excuses.
John 5 details the story of the man who had been paralytic for 38 years, waiting by the Bethesda. There was a belief that when the water rippled, the first to enter would be healed. While the bible doesn’t specify that the man had been by this pool for all 38 years, it does state he had been there a long time (John 5:6). Even if his time by the pool was a mere year or two, I have often wondered why he hadn’t approached and stayed close enough to be ready should the water stir, especially since that was the source of hope.
While this account is told to explain that Jesus was being persecuted because he healed on the Sabbath (John 5:16), Arron Chambers noted the excuses offered by the paralytic: 1) “I have no one to help me,” 2) While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me” (John 5:7).
Chambers counters these by stressing the importance of taking responsibility for ourselves. Even if no one helps, we can independently make the choice to seek to change. Likewise, we must stop blaming others for our circumstances when we have the power to change them.
As we studied this passage, I could not help seeing the similarities to my EXCUSES about not losing weight and getting into shape. This year, I resolved to give up excuses for Lent and take responsibility–using the resources I have available, including God’s help.
For the paralytic, the mat was symbolic of the excuses he offered for staying in his circumstances…as it is for me. As health was restored for him, I look forward to the same results as I continue to pursue eating in moderation and exercising.
How about you? Why don’t you stop making excuses, take up your mat, and walk!