ronniemcbrayer300 bKENTUCKY (3/17/13) - In ancient Jerusalem there was a pool of water called Bethesda. The location served as an impromptu hospital ward, a collection point for the sick, blind, and paralyzed. These infirmed went to Bethesda to receive a hoped for healing – not from a physician – but from the therapeutic waters themselves.

Back then it was a common belief that an angel came from heaven at certain times and “stirred up the water” of Bethesda’s pool, resulting in miraculous healing for anyone who could get in the water. They didn’t take this stirring as natural warm springs, percolating mineral water, or air escaping the limestone aquifer. They believed it was a divine intervention.

In the New Testament gospels, Jesus makes a visit to Bethesda and finds a lame man lying alongside Bethesda’s waters. Jesus doesn’t drag him over to the pool and dunk him. He simply heals him. Then, he gives the now-made-well man excruciatingly practical instructions: “Pick up your mat and walk.” This wasn’t to get the man’s bed out of the way. Jesus was saying, “Get it out of here so that you won’t come back to it!”

This former invalid, the best we can tell from the gospels, had been coming to Bethesda for the better part of four decades. That is a long time to waste lying alongside a bubbling brook. And now that he was empowered to live a better, healthier life, it would be easy for him to fall back into old habits. Jesus wanted this stretcher removed so that the man would not have the temptation to return to it.

This olden story of faith predates today’s advances in neuroscience by centuries, but Jesus already knew what researches have confirmed in recent decades: When habits are formed, the brain actually changes. Routines – good or bad – cause neurons in the brain to alter their patterns. So in the process of breaking a habit, the brain must also be “rewired” to not only change a person’s behavior, but to change the firing of synopses inside his head.

Recent studies also show, that if a person returns to their former habits, the brain returns to its former patterns as well. But every addict and Al-Anon participant already knows this. We will return to the things that hurt us, again and again, and again and again. Body and spirit will slide right back to where we once were.

If we want sustained change for our lives, if we want to be whole, redeemed, complete, reinvigorated people, then yes, we must admit our powerlessness to be well on our own, and at the end of ourselves collapse into grace. But as important as this first step is, here is another: If we are going to live out this transformation, there must be a grace-infused commitment, not to return to those ways, habits, persons, lifestyles, and behaviors that will only take us back to the unhealthy way of life we knew before.

The door to the past has to be slammed shut. Obstacles have to be put in the way to keep us from returning to old ways of thinking and old ways of acting. Spiritual reprogramming and rewiring has to take place. That is why Jesus told this man to get his mat and get out, because that was the only way he could remove himself from this dead-end, superstitious pool-sitting that would only enslave him, not heal him.

If we are going to remain well, we can’t go back. Life, redemption, wholeness, and healing: These are waiting for us only as we move forward. After the hard work of being brought back to life has been done, let us not lose our future by returning to the past.

So while we all will have to carry the burden of our yesterdays, our wasted days, and our years of regret – the mats and stretchers we used to rely upon – God’s grace and healing will lighten that burden. And that same grace will help us to walk on, never returning to who and what we once were.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

springhour

In Other News...

2015 Mayor's Gala Announced

OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/3/15) — The City of Owensboro is pleased to announce the 2015 Mayor's Gala "An Evening with Vince… Read More

Register Now for 2015 Spring/Summer Adult Softball Leagues

OWENSBORO, Ky. (3/3/15) — The Owensboro Parks and Recreation Department is currently taking registrations for the… Read More

Most Read This Week

March 02, 2015 8986

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
February 25, 2015 8191

Multi-Agency Investigation Nets Large-Scale Meth…

in Top News For All Sites by Trooper Stu Recke
February 24, 2015 8025

Two Charged in Central City Meth Bust

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Trooper Stu Recke
February 25, 2015 6292

New Asian Restaurant Coming to Madisonville

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
February 24, 2015 5011

School Board Holding Special Called Meeting

in Muhlenberg News by Sherri Miller
March 03, 2015 4785

Three Arrested during Traffic Stop

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Most Read This Month

February 12, 2015

UPDATE: Name of Pennyrile Fatality Officially…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
February 09, 2015

Police Pursue Man after Fight at Taco Bell

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center

Stories Trending Today

March 03, 2015 4785

Three Arrested during Traffic Stop

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
March 03, 2015 2346

Sacramento Man Charged with Rape, Sodomy

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
March 03, 2015 1802

Superintendent: Spring Break Won't be Touched…

in Hopkins News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 03, 2015 1689

Madisonville Man Charged for Robbery in Greenville

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Greenville Police Department
March 03, 2015 957

Baptist Health Madisonville Now Offering…

in Hopkins News by Kristy Quinn
March 03, 2015 956

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 3, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
March 03, 2015 915

SurfKY News Exclusive: John Conlee Talks of 40…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
March 03, 2015 881

SHMS Dance Team Places in State Championship

in Hopkins News by South Hopkins Middle School
March 03, 2015 820

Local Students Place in Stanley Lewis Cultural…

in Hopkins News by Joyce Riggs
March 03, 2015 747

Militant Crazy Religion, Avoid the Damage

in General News For All Sites by Dr. Glenn Mollette