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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

Can't Never Could

Playing with I can’t is as dangerous as playing with fire. Can’t rehearses the wrong information. Can’t often sets up false boundaries. Can’t paralyzes, shortchanges, and destroys possibility.

Jesus encountered a person who lived with I can’t too long (John 5:1-9) Jesus was in Jerusalem for a Feast Day. He and his disciples probably entered by the Sheep Gate which meant they walked past the Bethesda Pool. Bethesda means House of Mercy. But there wasn’t much mercy at the Bethesda Pool. That was where the disabled gathered, waiting to be the first in the water if the Angel of Mercy invisibly descended and “troubled” the water as a sign of angel presence. They were last hope people.

What drew Jesus to the man on the mat? His blank stare? His hopeless heart? Had he been there longer than anyone else?

Do you want to get well? Jesus asked him.

Now that’s an unnecessary question. Why would he spend his days at a pool believing an angel story was his best hope? We would ask the questions about what he couldn’t do, what didn’t work, what he had already tried. We are fixers, not healers.

Jesus always knows the question on which the whole answer rests: Do you want to get well?

While it sounds like an unnecessary question, I have come to understand it is the key question for emotional wounds and disabling fears. I can’t is a paralysis no X-ray can detect.

I have listened to long, agonizing stories of why people can’t trust, can’t move on, can’t help themselves, can’t forget, can’t forgive.

And just like I heard as a child, “Can’t never could.”

But Jesus doesn’t ask us questions to find out why we can’t. He goes deeper. He asks us if we want wholeness.

Get up, Jesus ordered without telling the man to put away his can’ts.

And miracle of miracles, this negative thinker, this pool-sitter, this invalid of spirit more than body; did what Jesus asked.

Don’t misunderstand. This was not a mind over body healing. This was whole healing of mind and body, spirit and heart.

Here’s our question—where are we paralyzed by I can’t that will take us all the way to I won’t? Where do we set up false boundaries or pass the blame to someone or some thing else?

Hear Jesus’ question: Do you want to get well?

Before you rehearse your I can’t again, wait for the next instruction from Jesus. Whatever Jesus asks you to do will take you past I can’t into the wonderful freedom of living in the inexhaustible you-can resources of God. He will help you do what you can’t do by yourself, but with God . . . well, that’s the story you want to live.

Sharing the Journey!


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