Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Roof Crashing Friends

I recently read a chapter in a book that changed my whole perspective on a familiar bible story. Many have heard the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof to see Jesus. We hear the story and our hearts naturally draw to the suffering of the man and the grace of Jesus. How often, however, do we think of the man's friends? Yes, the miracle itself was big finish in a moving story, but what about the heart of it....the details, the small pieces of the puzzle that make it complete?

Imagine a paralyzed man, sitting on the side of the road every day, completely dependable on people around him to clean him, clothe him, carry him. He was probably lucky to have escaped death as an infant rather than being killed for his deformity....although I am not sure he would have considered this luck. He is defined to others not by who he is, but the image he portrays....and yet, he had friends. Not just friends, good friends.
"Here is a little band of men who refuse to let any obstacle stop them. Their little group clearly did not come about by accident. In the face of formidable obstacles-social sigma, inconvenience, financial pressure, a high cost of time and energy-they become friends."
These friends loved the man so deeply that their first reaction to Jesus' arrival was not of themselves, but of their friend. They made sure they picked him up (literally) on their way to see Jesus. When the group arrived, however, there was no way in to the home or even to the door. So what did they do? They climbed to the roof of the house and started tearing it open. I can imagine the paralyzed man protested...told them they were being ridiculous....was probably more embarrassed than he had ever been in his life, which is saying a lot.....though nothing stopped them. They cared more about their friend than they did any judgement or any consequence. The big finish to the story for me was not that Jesus actually healed the man, it was the reason...a reason that I don't think you fully grasp until you dig to the heart of the story...the friendships.
"Jesus sees a little of what God intended when he made human beings. He sees people who love even in the face of a giant "as-is" tag. He thinks to himself that this is humanity at its finest. He sees their faith."
I write of this not only to shed a new perspective on a miraculous story, but also to acknowledge that these kinds friendships are both rare and ageless. Suffering has always been a part of our world. We seek to find answers or reasons when it hits close to home, however, sometimes we refuse to embrace the opportunity it brings us....relationships. Recently two dear friends of mine lost one of their closest friends to a childhood disease. Their friend's downhill progression began about the time this story made its way into my life, and I found this becoming my daily prayer. I began praying for the man's healing and suffering, but also that the Lord would see the faces of his friends, my friends, as he did that day with the paralyzed man...and see their faith, their immense love for their friend.

Although this man lost his battle a few weeks ago, I have began to think more deeply about my prayer. I think the Lord did see his friends' faith, but long before the moment of dependence and weakness. The Lord saw their faith from the beginning and allowed a friendship to form that would withstand any and all obstacles. They were deeply devoted to one another and even sat by their friend's side as he drifted into the Lord's arms. They are the very definition of a "roof-crasher" and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to know them.
"Friends are people who have made a major roof-crashing commitment to other human beings."


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